AT&T’s ‘Lightspeed’ Rollout Down to a Crawl

Telecom giant AT&T today confirmed its “Project
” IPTV network this year will reach 8 million homes, less than half the 18 million homes it had projected in 2004 when it set up the lofty goals. Despite the shortfall, AT&T told regulators earlier this week it has expanded its goal for 2008.

AT&T disputed reports the shortfall indicates targets for its fiber Internet TV service have changed. Indeed, the telecom earlier this week told regulators it expects Lightspeed next year will reach 19 million homes – one million more than originally projected.

In a 2005 statement unveiling Lightspeed, AT&T said the broadband network would be available to 18 million households “by the end of 2007.”

Jupiter Research broadband analyst Joe Laszlo said it’s often normal for corporate projections to slip from when they’re given. Although AT&T is guilty of painting too rosy a picture, he told, it should be held to account for future lowered expectations.

“Consumers need to start holding AT&T’s feet to the fire,” said Laszlo.

Spokeswoman Destiny Belknap told the company’s goals remain unchanged for Lightspeed rollouts, marketed as the “U-verse” Internet TV service. Yesterday, Racine and Milwaukee Wisconsin joined the list of 13 areas in five states offering the video package.

AT&T said any expansion of the U-verse network will slow if it doesn’t hire enough technicians to help meet buildout goals, according to a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier this week.

AT&T also expanded its projected roll-out for 2008, expecting to reach 19 million homes.

Competitor Verizon Communications last year turned to the mall to sell consumers on its FiOS TV alternative. Verizon claims more than 117,000 subscribers across nine states.

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