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AT&T U-verse Expansion: It’s Over; AT&T’s Rural Broadband Solution? “We Don’t Have One”

Phillip Dampier February 8, 2012 AT&T, Community Networks, Consumer News, Rural Broadband 21 Comments

AT&T’s vision for 21st century broadband will not extend beyond the 30 million homes that can or will soon be able to access the company’s fiber-to-the-neighborhood service U-verse.

Speaking on an investor’s conference call to discuss 4th quarter earnings results, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson announced the expansion of its fiber to the neighborhood service is now effectively over.

“Our U-verse build is now largely complete, so we have in place an IP video and broadband platform that reaches 30 million customer locations, which gives us significant headroom now to drive penetration,” Stephenson said.

In practical terms, Stephenson’s announcement means AT&T will continue work on building its U-verse platform in cities where the service is already available, but other areas are unlikely to see an introduction to the service anytime soon.  AT&T President John Stark originally envisioned U-verse for 30 million homes and that vision remains unchanged today.

AT&T’s news for its rural customers is worse.  The company admits it has run out of ideas how to provide rural broadband to its landline customers.

“We have been apprehensive on moving, doing anything on rural access lines because the issue here is, do you have a broadband product for rural America?,” Stephenson said. “And we’ve all been trying to find a broadband solution that was economically viable to get out to rural America and we’re not finding one to be quite candid.”

If you can buy it at any price

Stephenson was hoping LTE 4G wireless service could provide a rural broadband solution, a central theme in AT&T’s lobbying campaign for a buyout of T-Mobile, since abandoned.

“That having been set aside, now we’re looking at rural America and asking, what’s the broadband solution? We don’t have one right now,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson earlier told a July meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners that DSL, the most common form of broadband in rural America, was “obsolete.”

The two announcements immediately raised questions in South Carolina and Georgia where AT&T and other telecommunications companies are fiercely lobbying for restrictions on community-owned broadband.

Broadband advocates in both states are wondering why the company is spending money trying to stop other broadband projects while not spending on building better broadband service in those areas themselves.

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Fred Pilot
10 years ago

AT&T’s news for its rural customers is worse. The company admits it has run out of ideas how to provide rural broadband to its landline customers. “We have been apprehensive on moving, doing anything on rural access lines because the issue here is, do you have a broadband product for rural America?,” Stephenson said. “And we’ve all been trying to find a broadband solution that was economically viable to get out to rural America and we’re not finding one to be quite candid.” This is why community and cooperatively owned and operated infrastructure is needed in this areas to provide… Read more »

anthony
anthony
9 years ago
Reply to  Fred Pilot

I’m gonna call horse crap on that. AT&T has not tried everthing. Out in my area (78002) they ran a fiber line just for 4G. I’ve been asking for DSL for 12 years now and just got it. Yeah my speed sucks, but the wireless is great. There is fiber all out in my rural area. Even the railroad has fiber up and down the track. Its all about how much money. Hey, I got about $200 dollars to shell out a month for UVERSE. To you what, I’ll even let you set you infrastructure on my property. Just bring… Read more »

Wanda
Wanda
9 years ago
Reply to  Fred Pilot

I was told when we moved into our home in 2006, that ATT would be switching all of the Bell South Customers and would be offering them broadband internet, tv service and phone lines. Let me tell you first about my phone, if it is dead, I have to take an old plug in phone to the back of my house, open a box and see if I can get a dial tone before I call for service (you are thinking of Green Acres by now?) then we can’t get tv service here, so we have to pay for direct… Read more »

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

Thank you AT&T.. for once a honest quote we can reference in the future against your lobbyist paid for campaigns to stop community owned broadband projects from providing high-speed affordable broadband to the communities you have no plans and no intention of ever serving..

Matt
10 years ago

Fixed wireless providers (WISPs) all over the country have a simple message for AT&T: “Don’t worry bro, we got this”

Visit the map at http://www.wispdirectory.com, find a WISP servicing your community and get away from the bad telcos.

Scott
Scott
10 years ago
Reply to  Matt

and who do consumers turn to to get away from metered low cap and high priced WISP’s?

Matt
10 years ago
Reply to  Scott

If they don’t like the broadband options that are available, they can start their own WISP. That is how most WISPs started out anyway!

Smith6612
Smith6612
10 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Not all WISPs cost a fortune, or cap or throttle. It’s only those WISPs who didn’t plan ahead or who are buying bandwidth bulk from an incumbent who is overcharging. If a person is lucky enough to live in those areas where the WISP is also not overloaded, I’d imagine it’d work great. If not, AT&T should start considering making use of what Fiber is available in rural areas and placing pole-mounted DSLAMs if at all possible. A lot of rural places out where I am have at least a few stands of fiber handy on streets. DSL can reach… Read more »

dave
dave
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott

idk i think for the 10 mgs that i have for 39.99 for wifi is actually pretty cheep. not to mention its 10 mgs not 2/3 like most provides give do to they are only required to give you 70% of what they are selling you (in iowa anyways). windstream claims they have 12 but its 70/ mo. and you can get it here they also claim their lost speed is 3 mgs but all you can get here is 1.5. no fap no throttling nothing just wide open 10 mgs all you can use.

ScottA
ScottA
10 years ago

Thank Mr Obama.
AT&T planned to provide HS to all rural customers via Fixed LTE to the home. The Blocked TMO acquisition is what ended this.

Fred Pilot
9 years ago

I believe the reference to “rural America” is not an entirely accurate descriptor. Many areas that have incomplete wireline Internet infrastructure are not in rural areas. They can be found anywhere. One of the biggest indicators is the frequent complaint that a premises just down the road or even on the same street has wireline access but an adjacent one does not.

ScottA
ScottA
10 years ago

I am sure there is a possibility that AT&T and Verizon will continue their builds at some point in the future when the economy improves. The economy is bad and it doesn’t make a ton of economic sense to pour money into a service which isn’t a necessity . I have been waiting for Uverse for the past 3 years and I am out of luck now. I knew my options before I moved and I could have chosen to move somewhere less rural but I am happy where I am and wouldn’t change a thing. I just need to… Read more »

Greg
Greg
8 years ago
Reply to  ScottA

I was in your shoes a few years ago. There was nothing but dial-up in my area. No cable, no DSL, nothing. Then suddenly, although it was 10 years later, at&t ran Uverse to our area. We were the first in the county to get the service. Why us, I have no clue, because we are rural. Closest city is 10 miles way. Good things will come. When is the question.

Pete Moss
Pete Moss
10 years ago

Concur with Phil. AT&T, as usual, is picking the low hanging fruit only. Now they intend to sell off most of their rural infrastructure just like Verizon. The new companies like Frontier are poorly financed and will cry “no money” if the PUCs lean on them to provide HS DSL based service. I pity the folks in the rural communities being stuck with LTE and/or Satellite based services that are slow, expensive, and low capped.

Joshua Taylor
Joshua Taylor
9 years ago

Read a book. Your books are just sitting there too long just waiting to be read, and they’re wearing out. Get rid of your internet, save your money and READ. Who cares about AT&T and the Internet?

Now is the time for you all to make a real living. Go out and make real friends. There is so much important things for you all to do instead of fattening yourselves with the internet and wasting your money.

rjdafoe
rjdafoe
9 years ago
Reply to  Joshua Taylor

Except most of my books are digital on my Ipad, so thanks, I read all the time. I also am outside and take part in a bunch of community things. There is such a thing as your own leisure time, and there is much out there on the internet to learn. Sorry, but your comment shows a disregard for modern life. There are plenty of things that 1 hour a week on the internet gets you over 0 hours. Even if your bill is $80 a month for internet, and you only use it 1 hour a week, depending on… Read more »

txoutback
txoutback
9 years ago
Reply to  Joshua Taylor

Joshua, you make a good point, but its just not possible to dismiss something like the Internet these days so idly. People rely on it for their livelyhoods… sometimes to sell their crops, sometimes to learn how to live wiser in the rural lifestyle. Not being out-of-touch means you have better access to important knowledge and commerce becomes marginalized (vs. a big hassle), allowing you more free time to spend wisely out of doors and with family. The interesting thing about modern rural folks, (especially those of us who are left the suburbs to live a better life) is that… Read more »

Damaeus
Damaeus
9 years ago
Reply to  Joshua Taylor

Joshua Taylor says:

>>> [SNIP]— Get rid of your internet, save your money and READ. Who cares about AT&T and the Internet? —[SNIP]— There is so much important things for you all to do instead of fattening yourselves with the internet and wasting your money.<<<

I think it's hilarious and hypocritical that you posted that on the internet!

Greg
Greg
8 years ago
Reply to  Damaeus

But I have a Kindle. I need the Internet to read…..lol

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