AT&T deploys fiber out of region to satisfy business, wireless backhaul demand

AT&T's (NYSE: T) fiber deployment to homes and businesses isn't just taking place in its own territory as the service provider is finding new business service and backhaul opportunities outside its footprint.

Scott Mair, senior vice president of technology planning and engineering for AT&T, said the company is taking a look at ways to extend its fiber on a case by case basis.

"When you look at the wireless network out of footprint, we have a strong fiber base today to our current cell towers, which we do through a set of different solutions," Mair said at the Jefferies Communications Conference. "We'll continue to, on a periodic and a very more specific basis, deploy fiber out of region and that's been our strategy."

Mair added that the out-of-region fiber build process will address a mix of its own wireless backhaul needs and satisfy the demands of business customers that require fiber-based services.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the key consideration in building fiber facilities into new areas rests on the ability to develop a sound business case.

"We're deploying fiber out of region for cell backhaul and certain places for businesses," Mair said. "We have been deploying that strategy for years and we have assets out of region today, and we continue to deploy fiber out of region where it makes good economic sense."

AT&T has set an ambitious strategy to roll out FTTH to 56 markets. To date, AT&T has passed over 1.6 million homes in 21 markets.

The strategy is part of AT&T's broader effort to effectively multitask its fiber network to serve multiple purposes across its wireline and wireless assets. As part of that process, AT&T evaluates whether it should install a distributed antenna system (DAS) at a building site along with fiber and Ethernet equipment. Furthermore, many of the sites on which it's deploying fiber to homes are also located near business buildings, existing tower sites and future small cell deployments.

"We're continuing to build out a strong fiber footprint and when we deploy fiber we are doing it on an integrated basis from a planning perspective," Mair said. "... we're bringing pieces together from what I need from wireline, wireless and business so that fiber footprint that we have also helps our future small cell deployments."

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