With its DSL subscriber base still dwindling rapidly, AT&T is relying more and more on its ongoing FTTH buildout to spur broadband growth.
In its first-quarter earnings release and presentation late Wednesday, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) reported that it added a total of 82,000 broadband subs in the three-month period despite shedding another 72,000 legacy DSL customers. That's because it netted 154,000 IP broadband subs, consisting of a combination of FTTH and FTTN customers.
As a result, the telco ended March with 14.4 million total broadband subs, split between 13.6 million IP subs and 816,000 DSL subs, down from 4.5 million DSL subs just four years ago. The company, which is the third largest US broadband provider behind Comcast and Charter, has not reported how many FTTH customers it's signed up yet or how many of its subs are opting for 1 Gig service.
But AT&T did disclose that it now passes more than 8 million customer locations with fiber, with the vast majority of those being residences. It also said that its fiber lines now pass within 1,000 feet of 8 million business locations across the nation.
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AT&T Senior EVP & CFO John Stephens said the company expects to pass 10 million homes with fiber by the end of the year. It's doing this as it strives to meet its commitment of passing 12.5 million customer locations with fiber by the end of 2019, under the conditions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) when it approved AT&T's purchase of DirecTV three years ago. Company officials have said they intend to exceed that commitment and pass 14 million homes and businesses with FTTH lines by then. (See AT&T Preps for Big Fiber Build .)
Speaking on the company's earnings call, Stephens also said AT&T is seeing broadband penetration rates of "nearly 50%" in fiber-built markets where it's been marketing the product for at least two years. He noted that this penetration rate is "quite a bit higher" than the penetration rate for non-fiber areas.
Europe's largest cable operator reports that both upstream and downstream traffic have jumped since the COVID-19 pandemic hit its markets, with the upstream traffic surging 50% and the downstream up over 20%.
With tens of millions of people now sheltering at home throughout the nation, the three biggest publicly traded US MSOs all reported substantially higher broadband subscriber gains in the first quarter.
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