AT&T said that its decision to have a network build-out plan that accommodates a mix of wireless and wireline needs continues to help the telco be more tactical in making business cases work in areas where it is expanding these networks.
Bill Hogg, president of AT&T technology and operations, told investors during the Jefferies Technology Group Investor Conference (reg. req.) that an integrated wireless and wireline spending plan has seen a number of gains since the company adopted the process in 2008.
“We’ve always done integrated planning for wireless and wireline and we have reaped the benefits of that,” Hogg said. “We have been able to look at the assets we’re deploying, look at the grids and how they fit together.”
Hogg added that “it’s given us a business case for deployments where maybe on a standalone basis they would have not made a business case, but it also gives a big lift in efficiencies to do an integrated plan.”
Similar to its peer Verizon, AT&T is going to look at purchasing or building fiber-based backhaul facilities outside of its wireline footprint to support existing 4G and upcoming 5G wireless networks.
On the fiber to the premises (FTTP) build-out front, AT&T is on track to pass 6 million homes with fiber by the end of the year. By the year 2019, AT&T set a goal under the terms of its DirecTV agreement to pass 12.5 million homes with fiber.
Hogg said that the side benefit of the FTTP build is that it will be able to support wireless backhaul for its small cell rollout. This means that AT&T would not have to lay fiber to each individual building.
“What it does is it provides you a great set of capillaries deep into the network in the areas where you would expect small cells would play,” Hogg said. “To the extent that we’re on track for the commitment we made as we look at each case for small cells we’re looking at all of the access technologies and a lot of times it is more fiber.”
Hogg added that give AT&T more facilities to leverage for business services and small cell backhaul.
“If we’re building more fiber for the purpose of small cells, the fiber can be leveraged for AT&T Fiber deployments and other capabilities,” Hogg said. “If there are multiple applications for the expansion of fiber irrespective of what our current commitment is if it makes business sense we’ll go deeper into the network.”