AT&T upgrades coming, if you live on the “high-potential” side of the divide


You either have or you have not, Slim.

AT&T is getting ready to roll out 45 Mbps service in Dallas shortly and expand over its entire wireline footprint during the coming year, according to Broadband DSL Reports. The technology being deployed – VDSL2 and pair bonding – has the potential to eventually make good on an earlier promise to deliver 75 to 100 Mbps service.

To maybe half of AT&T’s wireline customers. The other half will have to make do with slower copper-based speeds or, in some cases, with 4G mobile service. For a long time to come.

Last November, AT&T hyped plans to spend $14 billion on “high-potential growth platforms“. Translation: we’re putting money into mobile broadband and big city business district fiber, and we’ll finish the Uverse upgrade projects we’ve already started. Everyone else, sorry.

Alan Weissberger did a sharp job of unpicking AT&T numbers last year. A quarter of AT&T’s homes are stuck with what they have. For the rest, by 2015 his analysis has 43% with triple-play capability and 32% getting a lower grade of Uverse service. AT&T has since said that only 90% of the former and 40% of the latter could or would be upgraded to at least 75 Mbps.

Do the math: 52% of AT&T’s wireline homes might be able to get 75 Mbps. If there’s enough spare copper already installed, if they’re close enough to a street terminal and if AT&T actually upgrades everybody. So the real total looks to be slipping well below the fifty percent mark.

Better hope that AT&T thinks your neighborhood has high potential.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.