AT&T hints at further FTTP expansions beyond 14M premises goal

AT&T (NYSE: T) confirmed plans that it may extend its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services to additional consumer and business locations in its wireline footprint after completing its build to 14 million sites.

Speaking to investors during the fourth quarter earnings call, CFO John Stephens said that it is seeing good traction for FTTP and the build could reach other areas that weren't in the initial plan.

"With regard to the expansion that we are doing now with regard to fiber, we are seeing very good results and the ability to always have video available with the satellite product is going to prove I think to be very beneficial for us," Stephens said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "So we will expand on that 60 million footprint over the next four years ... some of it will overlap but we will get to 14 million fiber-enabled and quite frankly there is a likelihood that we may get to more than that when we are finished."

AT&T said in an FCC filing that it would build 1 Gbps service to an additional 11.7 million customer locations over the next four years. This buildout plan is one of the provisions the carrier promised the FCC it would meet in getting approval for its DirecTV acquisition.

Later in December 2015, AT&T hatched plans to build out its 1 Gbps service to parts of 38 additional metro areas.

An additional side benefit of the FTTP build is that AT&T can use it to serve other functions, including delivering GPON-based services to local businesses and as a backhaul mechanism for its wireless LTE network.

As part of its Project VIP initiative, the service provider recently met its milestone of bringing fiber to 1 million business locations.

Stephens said that the Project VIP fiber build put "extensive fiber into the ground and backhaul capabilities and we are going to continue that quite frankly with GigaPower as we put more fiber near other cell sites that we can then give even better high-quality backhaul."

Whether it's over FTTP or its copper network, broadband overall is going to be a key element for AT&T.

With the integration of DirecTV completed, AT&T plans to look for opportunities to drive opportunities for consumers to bundle broadband with video.

"So many of our, if you will, broadband capable locations didn't have a video offering, now they do," Stephens said. "And so as we improve this single capability, this sales channel capability, all of that, we expect to grow that share and we would expect that it would be a significant improvement over where we're at today."

For more:
- see the Seeking Alpha earnings transcript (sub. req.)

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