TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: AT&T Plans Fast Web Alternatives in Rural Areas

AT&T Plans Fast Web Alternatives in Rural Areas

Reuters News Wire (
Mon, 8 May 2006 20:45:58 -0500

Telephone operator AT&T Inc. said on Monday it would offer new
satellite-based fast Internet services in U.S. rural markets and
expand its investment in emerging WiMax wireless connections.

"We are beginning to offer satellite-based broadband service in areas
where our DSL service is not available today, giving more consumers a
broadband choice," AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre said
in a speech at the Detroit Economic club.

AT&T is partnering with satellite-based high-speed Internet provider
WildBlue to provide the service.

The telecommunications giant, which plans to buy BellSouth Corp. later
this year, will also expand its market efforts related to WiMax and
other fixed wireless technologies with new deployments this year in
Texas and Nevada.

"Today, we reach more than eighty percent of our residential customers
with DSL service," Whitacre said. "My hope is that through initiatives
such as these, we can bring the benefits of broadband to all our

WiMax is a more powerful version of Wi-Fi, a wireless Web connection
built into most laptops, but that only covers small areas such as a
coffee shop.

AT&T also said that, in the next three years, it would make a video
service it is developing available to more than 5.5 million low-income
households as part of its "Project Lightspeed" fiber optic network

AT&T is building a high-speed fiber network to support television
services and faster Internet connections as it works to compete better
with cable operators, which now offer telephone services, as well as
Internet and television.

"We have introduced the service in San Antonio, and it's going very
well," Whitacre said. "We will roll it out to many more markets later
this year."

Whitacre said the video service will be launched in Houston next.

"Then we will go to 18 million households in the next three years," he

Another large regional telephone company, Verizon Communications, is
building a fiber network and already sells video services in several

Whitacre, speaking to reporters later, said the company was on track
to achieve its target of adjusted earnings per share growth in the
double digit percentage range in the next three years.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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