AT&T now says it is deploying fixed wireless using millimeter wave frequencies to apartment complexes in Minneapolis, outside its traditional 21-state wireline service area.
In case you miss the implications, this is the first time AT&T is going to compete head-to-head with CenturyLink in the consumer local access business, in CenturyLink’s footprint, aiming to supply 100 Mbps access service to each unit in a building. AT&T says it already plans to boost speeds to 500 Mbps to each living unit.
Up to this point, AT&T's consumer operations in the fixed network area have been confined to the 21-state region where AT&T has had operations growing out of the old Regional Bell Operating Company territories.
The move is akin to Comcast announcing it is going to serve customers in a Charter Communications franchise area.
While AT&T competes directly with Verizon in the mobile business, and with both Verizon and CenturyLink in the enterprise accounts business, AT&T has not overbuilt another telco in the consumer business.
There are many reasons for that situation. For one thing, AT&T wants to avoid running afoul of informal antitrust guidelines that tend to be triggered whenever a fixed network provider serves 30 percent of available U.S. homes.
By competing out of region as a CLEC, AT&T avoids increasing the number of U.S. homes passed by its incumbent provider fixed networks.
“If successful, this will give us the ability to offer a combination of Internet, DirecTV and wireless services to apartment complexes and multifamily communities in additional metro areas.” said Ed Balcerzak, AT&T SVP.
Additional areas under consideration where AT&T might do the same include Boston, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia and and Washington D.C., all in the Verizon Communications footprint.
AT&T says it also is looking at Denver Phoenix and Seattle, in the CenturyLink region.
All those efforts would have AT&T operating as a competitive local exchange carrier competing with Verizon and CenturyLink for the first time.