AT&T aims to shave 3 months off fiber build cycle

AT&T CEO John Stankey wants the operator to condense its fiber build cycle so it can get its broadband products into the hands of consumers faster. His eagerness perhaps comes as no surprise given AT&T lost 20,000 broadband customers in Q4 2021, as healthy fiber net additions failed to offset DSL and non-fiber losses.

Speaking on an earnings call, Stankey said it currently takes about a year from the time AT&T begins engineering work in a new market to the time it is able to begin selling fiber products there. The goal, he added, is to cut that timeframe down substantially.

“The challenge I’ve got to the team is I’d like that to be nine months,” he said. “What’s worked against us to do better than a year right now has been a little bit of spottiness in the supply chain,” but those issues are mostly behind it, Stankey added.

The CEO said AT&T over the last few years has “fairly dramatically” improved its rate to penetration once its fiber becomes available for sale and said he’d like to maintain the level it’s currently at. As of the end of Q4, AT&T had around 6 million fiber subscribers and penetration of 37%, with the latter figure up from 34% in Q4 2020.

RELATED: AT&T upgrades its fiber network to offer 2-Gig, 5-Gig speeds

Stankey also noted the company took a page from its wireless division and recently overhauled its fiber pricing with the introduction of its new 2-gig and 5-gig service tiers to make it simpler. The idea, he said, is to offer pricing which is “very straightforward for the consumer to understand over time, allows us to gain the right kind of momentum the market that’s sustainable, it drives up customer satisfaction, allows us to be consistent in our messaging that we carry out to the market and ensures every one of our employees knows the line.”


Stankey’s push around fiber is unsurprising given fiber was the only bright spot for its consumer wireline division in Q4. The operator gained 271,000 fiber customers in the quarter but lost 272,000 non-fiber broadband subscribers and 19,000 DSL customers.

RELATED: AT&T pilots multi-gig fiber, adds 270K subs in Q4

Consolidated revenue of $41 billion was down 10.4% year on year, with the dip attributed primarily to the divestiture of its U.S. video and Vrio businesses. Net income of $5 billion compared to a loss of $13.9 billion in the year-ago period.

Business wireline revenue of $5.9 billion fell 5.6% year on year while consumer wireline sales increased 1.4% to $3.2 billion.