The evolution of broadband doesn’t ever stop—connections are getting ever larger, and new technologies are always being developed to provide them, in both the wireless and wireline arenas. We talked to Lori Lee about it, executive vice president at AT&T Home Solutions, who leads the carrier’s strategy, marketing and operations for the wireline consumer organization.
Q: Can you tell us about AT&T Home Solutions?
A: AT&T’s Home Solutions business unit provides simple, seamless, secure connections for people. We help people connect with each other at work, home or on the go – providing communications, information and entertainment. We do that through an expanding IP broadband network, the top-rated video service in the country and the fastest and most reliable wireless service. We provide 37 million consumer connections. And when it comes to IP connections, we expect to have more than 10 million total U-verse subscribers when we report third quarter earnings. That includes more than 5 million U-verse TV subscribers.
Q: How has broadband evolved recently?
A: Not so long ago, broadband was about a single Internet access point in your home. Today, it’s about a connection wherever, whenever you need it – through your home Wi-Fi network, external Wi-Fi hot spots or through mobile data plans on smartphones and tablets.
Q: Why is broadband connectivity so important?
A: It’s hard to overemphasize how important broadband is to consumers and our country. We’ve learned that consumers consider broadband to be the most important of all electronic home services. At AT&T, we believe expanding broadband access improves our ability to connect. At home, at work, on the go, everywhere. We believe it enables better access to healthcare and education. It drives business productivity. It stokes the growth engine for innovation and economic development. And it enables people to build a stronger sense of community.
Q: What is AT&T doing to help improve broadband connectivity?
A: We’re investing $14 billion over the next three years to significantly expand and enhance our wireless and wireline IP broadband networks. We plan to bring wired IP to 57 million customer locations by the end of 2015. We are deploying fiber to reach one million additional business customer locations. And our 4G LTE expansion will reach nearly 300 million people by summer of next year. So, in about two years, we expect 99 percent of customer locations in our wireline service area to have high-speed IP internet access via IP wirelines or 4G LTE. AT&T has a long history—134 years—of providing and enabling the technologies to connect and improve how people live and work. We’ve invested more than $116 billion into our operations that have enhanced our wireless and wired networks during the last six years. Our investment gives communities access to the best wireless and wired communications technologies. It also drives jobs and local economies.
Q: Can you talk about the need for speed when it comes to broadband access?
A: High-speed Internet access capabilities have evolved and aligned with consumer need for faster speeds. At AT&T, our broadband plans deliver a wide selection of options at affordable prices for customers. We recently upgraded our U-verse services to include downstream speeds of up to 45 Mbps. And with our Project VIP investment, we have plans to upgrade U-verse speeds up to 100 Mbps. A week ago, we announced our deployment of a 100 percent fiber Internet broadband network in Austin, Texas, that will deliver speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second. We plan to begin delivering AT&T U-verse with GigaPower, the city’s fastest Internet, along with more advanced TV services and features, in December. We’ve evolved our broadband capabilities to meet the changing needs of consumers and businesses—to serve as a foundation for new waves of technology growth, innovation, entertainment and excitement.
Q: How would you describe the future of the network?
A: AT&T will be an IP broadband, cloud-based network—optimized for mobility and the explosion in video traffic. Our network will enable simple, seamless and secure connections for people and businesses. The future network will enable amazing benefits. The smartphone will replace our wallets, ID cards and keys. The tablet will be our mobile workspace. Homes won’t just respond to us—they will anticipate our needs. Cars will be connected to our lives. Medicine will be personalized and pre-emptive, with better access and outcomes, at lower cost. Higher education will be democratized. Farm production will improve and small farms will be better able to compete through instant crop monitoring and smart tractors. Entrepreneurs and rural small businesses can connect with customers and suppliers on a global scale. Government can transform how it delivers services. At AT&T, we intend to lead in this new world of opportunities.