AT&T may partner with equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent to expand and build out its U-verse service, so it can reach more potential customers. Network expansion may cost AT&T between $110 to $190 million, which may delay or change Alcatel-Lucent’s plans for layoffs.
AT&T U-verse offers high speed Internet service, digital television, and residential phone services powered over a fiber to the node (FTTN) network, which are available to over 30 million access lines in its service territory. AT&T has another 18 million access lines that currently lack access to U-verse services, so a decision should be made soon on whether or not to go ahead with the plans for expansion.
If expansion plans are implemented, analysts estimate that another 3 to 5 million access lines could get U-verse services within 12 to 18 months. For rural areas where FTTN expansion is either not possible or not economically viable, AT&T would use a wireless technology called Long Term Evolution, or LTE, which would give those customers faster service than standard landlines.
Alcatel-Lucent is a French multinational company with a branch in Plano, which employs around 2,700 people. Should this expansion deal go as planned, it is assumed that Alcatel-Lucent will be AT&T’s obvious partner, since Alcatel-Lucent manufactures the needed equipment and both companies are in Texas (AT&T is headquartered in Dallas).
This is a welcome development in the onward march to better technology and faster internet access for everyone. However, rural areas are still lagging behind, and the lack of infrastructure is preventing the availability FTTN or fiber to the premises (FTTP) service to its residents. FTTN and FTTP is much faster that LTE, but at this point LTE is the most anyone can do without having to build a new network from scratch.