AT&T tells FCC it will proceed with 21-city FTTP build

AT&T (NYSE: T) has confirmed with the FCC in a letter that it will go forward with its plans to bring its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) GigaPower 1 Gbps service to 21 communities.

"AT&T still plans to complete the major initiative we announced in April to expand our ultra-fast GigaPower fiber network in 25 major metropolitan areas nationwide, including 21 new major metropolitan areas," wrote Robert Quinn, senior vice president of federal regulatory and chief privacy officer for AT&T, in a letter to the FCC.

Quinn's letter was written in response to the FCC's request that the service provider clarify a statement made by company CEO Randall Stephenson, who threatened to put the brakes on new FTTP investments until the regulator worked out the net neutrality issue.  

Stephenson told investors during the Wells Fargo Technology, Media & Telecom Conference that not having a clear picture about net neutrality will make it hard to commit capital to new fiber deployment.

The telco's new position on fiber networks came after President Barack Obama asked the FCC to consider reclassifying incumbent broadband providers under Title II of the 1996 Telecom Act.  

After Stephenson made his remarks, the FCC asked AT&T in a letter for details on the current number of homes passed by its fiber deployment, including the breakdown of what technology it will use (i.e., FTTP or fiber-to-the-node (FTTN)) and details on its plans before and after the net neutrality issues are issued.

Quinn said that while President Obama's recommendation to the FCC to reclassify the "entire Internet under rules from the 1930s injects significant uncertainty into the economics underlying our investment decisions," it does not mean that every location it identified for FTTP service would not be profitable.

Having an uncertain regulatory environment would affect not only future investments in FTTP, but also additional upgrades of its existing DSL and IP-based U-verse DSL lines.

"To be clear, AT&T has not stated that the president's proposal would render all of these locations unprofitable," Quinn wrote. "Rather, AT&T simply cannot evaluate additional investment beyond its existing commitments until the regulatory treatment of broadband service is clarified."

For more:
- Media Post has this article
- see this letter

Related articles:
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AT&T halts fiber deployments until net neutrality is resolved
President Obama throws support behind the FCC's Title II broadband reclassification option
AT&T's Stephenson appeals directly to FCC's Wheeler to not reclassify broadband under Title II
FCC's Wheeler proposes two-tier net neutrality plan for broadband services