AT&T Quickens U-verse Pace
AT&T expects to speed up U-verse deployment, adding 40,000 new customers per week by the end of 2008, according to John Stankey, the carrier's president of telecom operations.
That goal, included in a talk this morning at the Merrill Lynch Communications Services Forum, would well outpace the 12,000 subscribers per week U-verse is adding today.
"It's a systemic process of adding people, training people, bringing them on, and building more footprint to sell to," Stankey said.
One highlight Stankey pointed out was that 60 percent of new video customers were coming from cable MSOs. "That's a bit higher than what we thought it would be," he said.
In addition, 50 percent of the new broadband customers were not previously AT&T customers, which suggests U-verse growth isn't necessarily cannibalizing older services.
Stankey said AT&T will add a second HD stream to U-verse by the middle of 2008 and will add its whole-home DVR feature with seven full streams of content available to a single household sometime in the second half of 2008.
As U-verse continues to grow rapidly, AT&T will begin pair bonding its last-mile copper lines in the fourth quarter of 2008. For some customers, Stankey said that, "should the need arise, we could go up to four HD streams and 40 Mbit/s with pair bonding."
On the wireless side of the business, the question arose as to why AT&T responded so quickly to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s unlimited voice package launched last week. (See Opposite Day.)
"We had to," Stankey said. "We're not going to allow our high-end customers to choose to go someplace else on the basis of price."
Yesterday, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg argued that, just because his company was first in the unlimited wireless voice offering, it did not suggest that Verizon was competing on price. (See Verizon Defends Pricing Practices.)
Stankey downplayed talks of a price war: "I don’t think anybody is surprised that unlimited voice is making its way into the wireless business. The trends we saw in wireline voice will repeat themselves in wireless voice."
— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading