For AT&T, it's time to build up or get out of the way as the company struggles to outpace the competition. The communications giant will invest an expected $14 billion in each of the next three years, and spend up to $22 billion in capital to improve all its offerings, from wireless networks to cable TV to good old-fashioned landlines.
The company's big plans include extending fiber-optic to reach 1 million additional business locations, covering 50 percent of multi-tenant office buildings in AT&T's wireline service area by the end of 2015; providing 99 percent of locations in the wireline service area with high-speed IP Internet access via IP wireline and/or 4G LTE; and expanding the IP broadband network to 75 percent of customer locations in AT&T's 22-state wireline service area by year-end 2015.
More Fiber and LTE
In mobile communications, AT&T plans to greatly expand its 4G LTE high-speed data network to cover 300 million people by the end of 2014, an increase from its plan to reach about 250 million people by the end of next year. In the 22 states where AT&T has wireline customers, it expects to add LTE to 99 percent of customer locations..
AT&T also has big plans for the spectrum it has acquired through 40 deals this year, some of which are awaiting government approval. This stands to result in an additional 118Mhz of spectrum nationwide as it works for additional deals to meet long-term need.
AT&T's Project VIP will also deploy small-cell technology and other means to increase the density of its network.
AT&T will also beef up its triple-play offering of cable, phone via voice-over IP and Internet by more than a third, with sights set on 33 million customer locations by the end of 2015, while upgrading speed for U-verse to speeds of up to 75 Mbps and 45 Mbpsfor its higher-speed IPDSLAM U-verse service.
It's all part of AT&T's effort to keep up with its top rival, Verizon, in the fast-changing world of communications.
"This is a major commitment to invest in 21st-century communications infrastructure for the United States and bring high-speed Internet connectivity -- 4G LTE mobile and wireline IP broadband -- to millions more Americans," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement announcing the changes. "We have the opportunity to improve AT&T's revenue growth and cost structure for years to come, and create substantial value for share owners."
"The effort should help them to compete more effectively but I doubt we'll see AT&T surpass Verizon any time soon," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "That may simply be related to practical issues -- AT&T is trying to maintain its traditional business at the same time it's expanding efforts in wireless and other services and strategies. That bespeaks enormous ambition, but it's also requires they faultlessly perform an incredibly difficult balancing act."