AT&T's Stankey: GigaPower's symmetrical speeds will address growing upstream demand

AT&T's (NYSE: T) growing GigaPower footprint will be a competitive differentiator because it offers symmetrical upstream and downstream speeds of 1-Gig and can meet the growing amount of upstream traffic, said a top AT&T executive.

Speaking at the Oppenheimer 17th Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference, AT&T Group President and Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey said that upstream traffic is growing at double the rate of downstream traffic thanks to so many users uploading photos and video content via social networking sites. Specifically, Stankey added that upstream traffic surges at venues such as concerts and sporting events.

GigaPower's symmetrical capability, Stankey said, will be a differentiator against competitive services such as cable because DOCSIS 3.0 isn't able to deliver a robust upstream due to difficulty with node splitting.

Stankey also said that the company's U-verse broadband service is now delivering speeds of around 45 Mbps and that more than 60 percent of AT&T's U-verse base is on the 45 Mbps tier or higher. However, he added that AT&T believes customers will want speeds higher than that and that is the reason behind the GigaPower deployments.

He noted that the economics behind deploying GigaPower have become more appealing. The company is able to have more targeted builds and penetrate areas of cities where customers have shown a desire for GigaPower service.

He also said that AT&T believes that it's critical for the company to keep the wireless and wireline networks together. Even though the wireline business is growing much more slowly than wireless, he said that as the "tail" between the cell site and the customer shortens, backhaul will become increasingly important and that's why the wireline assets will become increasingly critical.

AT&T is in the midst of launching GigaPower in Miami and has said it will expand the GigaPower network to Dallas and Fort Worth this summer. It also plans to deliver GigaPower to Houston and San Antonio, as well as Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem in North Carolina; Nashville, Tenn., and Overland Park, Kan.

Additionally, the company has said that upon approval of its proposed acquisition of DirecTV, it will expand GigaPower to an additional 2 million customer locations. Regarding the DirecTV acquisition, Stankey said that the approval process with the Department of Justice and the FCC are going well and the deal is on track.

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