AT&T Pledges $335M for Missouri Network

AT&T said Tuesday it plans to invest $335 million in network upgrades and expansions to deliver video, VoIP and Internet to customers in Missouri after the state approved pro-AT&T legislation.

Although the company said the spending will cover fiber network upgrades and other new technology to bring video and Internet services to Missouri, the company is sticking with its fiber-to-the-node, DSL-to-the-home architecture, which limits bandwidth to residences, to deliver video-driven packages to the home.

The DSL part of the AT&T video delivery architecture has limited U-verse rollout as it lacks the bandwidth, at least for now, to deliver two concurrent HD streams to the home. It also doesnt support larger symmetrical Internet access some provider such as Optical Entertainment Network Inc. and Rural Telephone Co. are rolling out for interactive gaming.

Verizon Communications Inc. has been deploying fiber all the way to the home to avoid bandwidth limitations or capacity-hog services and features for its FiOS package.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and AT&T admitted the investments are a direct result of state Senate Bill 284, which was signed into law March 22. Other states such as New Jersey and California have created statewide franchise options for town-by-town video franchising.

AT&T also will add broadband technology to its remaining 42 central offices in Missouri — mainly in rural areas — that are without DSL capability. When that process is completed, all 213 switching offices statewide will be DSL-ready.

State Sen. John Griesheimer, sponsor of SB 284, added that the legislation was the culmination of months of discussions with various parties, including the telecommunications and cable industries, municipalities and consumer groups. “But consumers are the big winners in all of this. Good public policy results in new investment, community growth and economic development opportunities,” he said.

Many of the towns on the list to get DSL have few options for broadband service today.

“High speed Internet access is more than a convenience. It is a driving force for business and can be a real boost to our economy. The introduction of DSL will be great for our town,” said Max Clark, mayor of Holcomb, Mo.

AT&T Inc.

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