The forecast suggests a gain of three million subscribers over the next 3 years
On Wednesday, AT&T announced their fourth-quarter earnings, meeting or exceeding the year’s financial goals, despite losing over a million pay-TV subscribers in the last quarter alone.
"We delivered what we promised in 2019 and we begin this year with strong momentum in wireless,” said AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson.
In the face of continued losses in video subscribers, AT&T may be hoping that fibre broadband will give a much-needed boost to their OTT services. Indeed, AT&T president and COO John Stankey has announced that the company is targeting a figure of seven million FTTH subscribers by the end of 2022.
“We have 4 million fibre customers today and our recent fiber expansion gives us 14 million locations to sell into,” said Stankey. “Based on our fiber sales experience, we expect to exit 2022 with about three million more fibre customers than we have today, or a total of about seven million.”
AT&T gained 191,000 FTTH subscribers in the final quarter of last year, bringing the current total to around 3.9 million.
This gain, however, only serves to offset the company’s overall loss in broadband subscribers, with Q4 seeing 373,000 subscriptions lost across their DSL and FTTN customer base.
Last year, AT&T mostly ceased building new fibre, aiming instead to increase the penetration of its existing networks; currently sitting at around 28%, penetration would need to increase to around 50% to hit the seven million subscriber goal.
As it stands, AT&T finds itself playing catch up in the FTTH race against Verizon, who announced that they had already reached 5.8 million residential FTTH subscribers at the end of 3Q19. However, if the AT&T does achieve its FTTH goal of 7 million by 2022, this will likely be enough to propel them into the lead.
While additional fibre builds seem unlikely, they have not been ruled out, with Stankey saying: “It’s entirely possible that this operating team could build another million to two million a year, if we felt like we had the operating momentum to do that.”
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