FCC wants AT&T to provide information on fiber investment delay

The FCC is asking AT&T (NYSE: T) to provide more information about comments that CEO Randall Stephenson made saying that the company would delay new fiber network investments pending the outcome of the proposed net neutrality rules.

In a letter sent to AT&T, the FCC asked 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.

The regulator has also asked whether AT&T's FTTP business model illustrates how more investment would be unprofitable, including the 2 million more it proposed it would pass with fiber.

AT&T's Stephenson said during the recent Wells Fargo Technology, Media & Telecom Conference that it would limit its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployment to the "2 million additional homes" it committed to as a condition of its pending DirecTV acquisition. The service provider added that any other FTTP deployment would depend on the outcome of the FCC's net neutrality rules.

Stephenson's comments came after President Barack Obama's call for the FCC to reclassify broadband providers under Title II last Monday.

The service provider said it would delay plans to expand FTTP services into 100 cities until the FCC makes a decision on President Obama's recommendation. In April, AT&T announced it would expand its fiber network to up to 100 of what it calls candidate cities and municipalities nationwide, including 21 new major metropolitan areas.

"We announced we'll deploy fiber to 100 cities and we can't go out and deploy fiber to these 100 cities not knowing what rules those investments will be governed," Stephenson told investors during the Wells Fargo conference. "We have to pause and put a stop on those kinds of investments that we're doing today."

AT&T said in a statement in response to the FCC's letter that it would address any issues brought forward by the FCC.

"We are happy to respond to the questions posed by the F.C.C. in its review of our merger with DirecTV," said AT&T in a statement. "As we made clear earlier this week, we remain committed to our DirecTV merger-related build out plans."

For more:
- see the FCC letter (.pdf)
- the New York Times has this article

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