“AT&T loves fiber but doesn’t want everyone to get it”; Delays Fiber-to-the-Home Installation to ½ Million Americans

By B.N. Frank

Some experts have raised concerns about fiber optics cables being installed for “last mile wireless” internet connections (see 1, 2).  Fiber installed all the way to homes and other premises provides safer and more secure internet connections than “last mile wireless”.  Because of the reported fiber shortage, AT&T has announced that they will be installing even less fiber-to-homes.

From Ars Technica:


AT&T delays 500,000 fiber-to-the-home builds due to severe fiber shortage

AT&T planned to wire up 3 million homes this year, will hit 2.5 million instead.

AT&T says that supply-chain shortages will delay fiber construction to about 500,000 homes that it originally planned to wire up this year and warned that shortages are likely to impact other companies that purchase fiber even more.
“Up through the second quarter, we hadn’t really experienced any impact from the supply-chain disruptions that are happening across the industry. But since the start of the third quarter, we are seeing dislocation across the board including in fiber supply,” AT&T Senior Executive VP and CFO Pascal Desroches said yesterday at a virtual conference hosted by Oppenheimer.

Further Reading

AT&T promises fiber-to-the-home expansion in 90 metro areas this year

AT&T previously told investors to expect “3 million homes passed [with fiber] this year,” Desroches said. “We’re probably going to come in a little bit light, probably around 2.5 [million].”

The planned deployment of 3 million locations includes all the fiber construction AT&T has completed in the first seven months of 2021. As we’ve written previously, AT&T is expanding its fiber builds in about 90 metro areas, with new locations primarily consisting of homes and businesses close to AT&T’s existing fiber installations.

Global shortages roil industries

Global semiconductor shortages have been disrupting plans for much of the tech industry and automakers. The broadband industry is being hampered by the shortages in chips, other components, and fiber itself.

AT&T typically has no problem getting fiber at a low cost, Desroches said. “We’re the largest fiber purchaser in the country and we have prices that are the best and most competitive in the industry,” he said. “We feel really good about the ability to secure fiber inventory at attractive price points and the ability to execute the buildout at scale, something that many others don’t have.”

AT&T expects to catch up to its original fiber-construction estimates in the years after 2021, largely because of what Desroches called its “preferred place in the supply chain” and “committed pricing.” As AT&T said in a news release yesterday, AT&T is “working closely with the broader fiber ecosystem to address this near-term dislocation” and “is confident it will achieve the company’s target of 30 million customer locations passed by the end of 2025.”

AT&T had deployed fiber to about 15 million locations by early 2021, so the plan is to double that by 2025. There are about 53 million households in AT&T’s 21-state home-Internet service area, leaving over 20 million where AT&T has no plans to upgrade from old copper lines to fiber.

Internet providers without a preferred place in the supply chain will have more trouble getting fiber than AT&T, Desroches pointed out. “We don’t think it’s going to impact us long-term, but I think it’s really important context. If we’re feeling the pain in this, I can only imagine what others in the industry are experiencing,” he said.

While Desroches “did not name AT&T’s fiber vendor, he noted it was a US company which has both domestic and international locations. Both CommScope and Corning would fit that description,” FierceTelecom wrote. “The latter recently highlighted an uptick in orders in its optical segment, but CFO Tony Tripeny warned on Corning’s Q2 earnings call it was already facing supply chain disruptions and expected ‘glass supply to remain short to tight in the upcoming quarters.'”

Small ISPs feel pain of shortage…

Read full article


Fiber optics is safer and more secure when used with a hardwired (not wireless or “WiFi”) internet connection (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).  Even before the announcement of the reported fiber shortage, AT&T seemed more intent in installing and providing unsafe 5G anyway (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).



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