AT&T's grand fiber buildout plan is largely driven from within, but the telco is also forging public/private partnerships with cities and towns in some targeted network build-outs.
In Texas, the City of Amarillo has tapped AT&T to upgrade networks to fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), covering more than 22,000 customer locations. The project, which still requires final approval by Amarillo and a final contract between AT&T and the city, is proposed to cost about $24 million (with $2 million coming from the city). The network will be built out over three years.
Amarillo, which is in an area of the Texas Panhandle also served by Altice USA's Suddenlink Communications, awarded the project to AT&T following a request for proposal (RFP) process.
The project is another example of a market where AT&T is taking the public/private partnership route. The telco inked a similar $39.6 million agreement (with about $10 million coming from public funds) last year with Vanderburgh County, Indiana, to build fiber to about 20,000 locations in the rural, southern tip of the state. AT&T also has a $33 million fiber project underway to connect about 20,000 locations in Oldham County, Kentucky.
"What we're doing here in Amarillo that's different is that this is an urban core," said Jeff Luong, president, broadband access and adoption initiatives for AT&T. "The city of Amarillo identified a specific area that they believe is challenging from a connectivity perspective in their urban core."
AT&T today delivers services in the area via other technologies, including legacy copper networks. The new fiber overlay, based on XGS-PON, will be capable of delivering symmetrical speeds of 5 Gbit/s, replicating a new mix of multi-gig services that AT&T has launched in its other FTTP markets.
AT&T already has access to public rights of way in Amarillo with its legacy infrastructure and will work closely with the city on permitting activities required for the fiber build.
Though final approvals are underway, the expectation is that AT&T will start to turn up fiber-fueled services in parts of Amarillo in the early part of 2023. While the agreement spans three years, Luong expects the majority of the build to happen in the first two years of the agreement.
He added that AT&T is exploring similar opportunities elsewhere.
"We're working with the public sector to identify areas that are more challenging to build on our own from a private sector perspective and creating these type of public/private partnerships where we, AT&T, will invest our own capital. But the public sector would also contribute a share of the cost to expand fiber connectivity to these locations," Luong said.
The Amarillo project enters the picture as AT&T pushes ahead with an FTTP buildout/upgrade plan that's targeting 30 million locations by 2025. AT&T added 289,000 FTTP subs in Q1 2022, ending the period with a grand total of 6.28 million, and enough to offset a quarterly loss of 284,000 non-fiber subs (including U-verse Internet customers).
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading