AT&T said Tuesday it plans to invest $17 billion to $18 billion in 2009, with two-thirds of that going into wireless and wired broadband networks.
AT&T late last year said it planned to lay off about 4 percent of its workforce, mainly in wireline. AT&T still expects to cut those jobs, but it will add nearly 3,000 jobs this year to support demand in areas such as mobility, broadband and video.
Plans for this year include adding more than 2,100 new cell sites across the country and expanding 3G service to 20 new markets this year. AT&T also expects customer trials will lead to greater availability of its 3G MicroCell femtocell offering for boosting in-building coverage, and it will continue to expand its Wi-Fi footprint.
The wireless plans dovetail with wired broadband initiatives. The company said its 2009 spending is in line with its 2007 capital expenditures of $17.7 billion.
AT&T’s investment this year is a positive sign for the industry, Strategy Analytics points out. The U.S. broadband market, which lags the developed world in terms of penetration, average speed, availability and price, has a limited window to catch up, the firm says.
At Mobile World Congress last month, Verizon Communications Chief Technology Officer Dick Lynch reiterated the company spent about $17 billion for cap ex in 2008. He said LTE network costs will be within the company’s overall program as spending shifts from older technologies to new initiatives like LTE. He also said expansion of the FiOS fiber network is consistent with the LTE rollout.