AT&T’s Stephens says fiber build could surpass 13M premises

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AT&T CFO John Stephens said the provider may surpass the commitment it made to the FCC to build out fiber to the premises (FTTP) services to 12.5 million homes by 2019.  

Stephens told investors during the Deutsche Bank 2017 Media & Telecom Conference that it is already ahead of its schedule with the FTTP build.

“Depending on how much we can count of our Greenfield build, how much we can count of the overbuilding of our U-verse footprint, and other specifics, not every one of those 4 million counts, which is what we understood all along,” Stephens said. “We are well ahead of the FCC commitment on the 12.5 million and by the time we complete it we will have more than 12.5 million.”

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Stephens added that “by the time we complete the build I would expect we could have between 13 to 14 million” premises connected to fiber because of the way the FCC’s counting works.  

Surpassing build-out goals

The service provider is ahead of its FTTH build-out schedule with 4 million consumers already connected to the network, exceeding its previous goal to reach 2.6 million last year. 

For 2016, AT&T reached a total of 46 markets with its FTTP network. This surpasses a goal the service provider set in October to reach at least 45 major metros areas by the end of 2016.

In all, AT&T said it plans to reach a total of 67 metros with its 1 Gbps internet services.

Penetration rising

Although the FTTP service is still relatively new, AT&T is seeing that broadband penetration in its FTTP markets has surpassed what exists in its copper-based DSL markets.

During the fourth quarter, the service provider noted that the “penetration of broadband is 9 percentage points higher in its fiber-enabled markets” versus its copper-only markets.

“In the ones that we have rolled out, the take rates and speed take rates are really good,” Stephens said. “We believe we’re going to take market share in that space and we’re most excited about the ability to bundle video and wireless with that fiber.”

Stephens added that what’s making AT&T optimistic about reaching its goals is “the uptake, the ability to bundle and the costs has been within or better than our expectations.”