AT&T to Attack Verizon MDUs in Boston

Anybody who thinks internet access competition is reaching a nadir might need to rethink those assumptions in the wake of new out-of-region assaults by Verizon, now countered to some extent by AT&T.

The important development is that markets traditionally lead by a telco and a cable operator, sometimes supplemented by competition from Google Fiber or other independent internet service providers, now will become markets where two tier-one telcos, a tier-one cable operator and often other ISPs also compete.

In other words, competition still is increasing, not shrinking, as some believe.
AT&T is offering internet access to multiple-dwelling units in Boston. The move is one example of a new trend in the fixed network business: large tier-one competitors moving out of region for the first time at scale.

Verizon, for its part, already has launched an assault on the AT&T market in Sacramento, and seems likely to attack another dozen or so markets as well. Most of the new 11 launch markets are out of region for Verizon, including Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville (NJ), Brockton (MA ), Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Of those markets, Washington, D.C.; Brockton and Bernardsville are inside Verizon’s fixed network footprint. The other markets are AT&T or CenturyLink domains.

Those moves outside the fixed network footprint by Verizon indicate thinking about growth prospects outside the core fixed network service territories, and probably also show that fixed wireless in the millimeter wave bands offers a new business case that did not exist before.

It remains unclear how much--if at all--the Verizon deep fiber architecture will play a key role in those out-of-region assaults. At least initially, the targets of opportunity likely will be locations reached by the metro fiber assets, using fixed wireless for access. That tends to suggest urban core targets of opportunity.

Essentially, AT&T and Verizon are becoming competitive local exchange carriers, at some scale, for the first time, attacking other tier-one telcos in their home markets.

The business case likely also includes the ability to use those assets to help with backhaul operations to support 5G small cell deployments as well.


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