AT&T says more building owners are preparing buildings for fiber deployments

With more than 800,000 businesses in its footprint now being passed by its fiber-to-the-business (FTTB) services, AT&T (NYSE: T) is finding that existing building owners are making their facilities ready for fiber because they see it as a selling point for their tenants.

AT&T has continued to make progress with its FTTB program. Earlier this week, the service provider announced that its fiber footprint can now deliver 1 Gbps services to multi-tenant office buildings in more than 180 cities in the United States.

Matt Beattie, executive director of product marketing for fiber to the building at AT&T, said that while the majority of times AT&T will wire the inside of the building with fiber, there are times where the cost and other issues prevent it from making that move.

"We found that there are a lot of different companies and entities that play a role in getting the fiber out there," Beattie said. "We will go out and build the fiber infrastructure inside a building in many cases, but we won't do that for everybody."

Despite these near-term issues, AT&T's ongoing FTTB drive has influenced property owners as they prepare their buildings for the telco to lay fiber.

"What we see and what we talk to building and property managers about is making sure your building is conditioned for these services," Beattie said. "Whether it's AT&T or another provider coming in there at some point you need to get service up to the customer on the thirtieth floor and to the extent that property managers can have their buildings pre-conditioned so when we come in to connect, you reduce the amount of time to get the service to the customer."

Being in a competitive market itself, Beattie added that since launching the FTTB portion of the Project VIP initiative in 2012, the service provider has seen more property managers being proactive about preparing their buildings for fiber rollouts.

"What we have seen over the course of the past few years is that property owners are now realizing that this is now table stakes so they're much more willing to take on responsibility for in-building fiber wiring than I had seen in the past," Beattie said. "They are very easy to work with and they get it and are realizing that the network inside the building is a selling feature for that property."

While it's easy to pre-wire newly built buildings with fiber, the challenge becomes how to install infrastructure in older buildings that may have risers that are jammed with old conduit and copper infrastructure.

"Newly built buildings are the easy ones and everyone loves those," Beattie said. "It's the ones where you have a legacy building in downtown Los Angeles that's been built in the 1950s and the risers are choked with copper [that] are the ones that are hard, but when property managers add one of those buildings into their portfolio they have to take the time on getting the infrastructure in place."

Preparing a building with necessary conduit and even fiber is not just about delivering telecom services. Building owners can also prepare their facilities to support an array of smart energy services to reduce an electrical load, for example.

"They have to do it not just for what we're doing, but also to support smart energy initiatives and everything else," Beattie said. "All of these things going on in the property industry require a network."

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