Last week ThinkEquity Partners analyst Anton Wahlman claimed AT&T was having second thoughts about the future of its "Project Lightspeed"
network upgrade and IPTV plan. "We believe AT&T will switch gears from VDSL2 around 25 megabits per second to something faster, possibly faster versions of VDSL2 running on shorter loops with potential for as much as 100 megabits per second,"
By the end of 2008, AT&T says 18 million homes will receive fiber to the node and VDSL2 for the last mile, offering them a total of 25Mbps for both IPTV and broadband. The company wants to deploy full fiber to the home (FTTH) only where it makes financial sense (read: developments like Kiley Ranch, Nevada
). In places that can get neither, the company plans to push its "Homezone"
DSL/Satellite DVR service.
With VDSL2, after video (& HD) capacity, 6Mbps has been set aside for data at this time, leaving the door open for criticism that this would not be enough bandwidth to "future-proof"
the telco from cable competition. This skepticism was fueled by last week's AT&T earnings report, which made nary a mention of the project.
Despite Wahlman's commentary, AT&T tells us that nothing has changed, and "Project Lightspeed"
remains on schedule. "We are seeing good results from our controlled market entry,"
says AT&T spokesperson Denise Koenig. "The service is working well and our subscribers are enjoying it today - we're pleased with the video quality and the features are working as planned."
Koenig says the company is likewise pleased with the speeds they are seeing in the company's controlled launch in San Antonio. "Using VDSL2, we're seeing speeds of 20-25 Mbps at up to 4,000 feet, even more at shorter loop lengths,"
she says. "On average, we're bringing fiber to within 3,000 feet of customers' homes.""This gives us more than adequate bandwidth to provide four streams of high-quality video (including one high-definition stream), high-speed Internet access and, in the future, consumer voice over IP services,"
As for future-proofing, execs haven't ruled out someday replacing that last mile copper with fiber a la Fios, but only when it's financially viable. For now, Koenig insists that pair bonding and compression will deliver an additional bandwidth boost if and when 25Mbps becomes too tight a fit.