AT&T promises fiber expansion, says mobile data traffic still soaring

|By:, SA News Editor

During a UBS conference talk, AT&T (T -0.5%) CEO Randall Stephenson promises his company will bring last-mile fiber services to markets other than Austin. AT&T has already responded to Google's Austin Fiber announcement by promising to offer 1Gbps services to residents, but has been light on details.

Stephenson doesn't say where AT&T will offer similar services, but does assert "there are lots of other opportunities around the country," and that "the economics of fiber deployment are really starting to look good in communities like Austin."

Any large-scale residential fiber rollout could require AT&T to ramp its capex, which the company has generally been loathe to do in recent years.

Separately, Stephenson notes AT&T is seeing tough competition in the low-end mobile market; the carrier has lost prepaid share this year, though its Q3 numbers suggest it's turning a corner following the launch of its Aio and GoPhone plans.

Also: In a comment that suggests AT&T (like Verizon) may need to step up its 4G infrastructure spending, Stephenson declares his company is still seeing 50% Y/Y growth in data consumption per smartphone user, thanks to heavy video use.

With AT&T and Verizon ahead of many foreign carriers in seeing large-scale 4G uptake, their data traffic issues could be a sign of things to come. A pickup in mobile capex to address the issue would benefit infrastructure vendors Nokia (NOK), Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), and Ericsson (ERIC), as well as carrier Wi-Fi vendor Ruckus (RKUS).