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AT&T to invest $14B for wireless and wired networks over three years

Project VIP increases reach and quality of LTE wireless

AT&T will invest $14 billion over the next three years for wireless and wired capital improvements, including an expansion of 4G LTE service to 300 million people by the end of 2014, the carrier announced today.

Previously, AT&T said it would reach 250 million people with LTE by the end of 2013. To get the increase, the carrier plans to buy more wireless spectrum for its LTE service nationwide.

AT&T also plans to deploy small-cell technology, macro cells and distributed antenna systems to increase the density of its wireless network and to improve network quality. In the 22 states where AT&T offers wired voice and data services, the company plans to have its LTE network cover 99% of all customer locations.

The overall project -- called Project Velocity IP, or Project VIP -- brings capital spending to $22 billion per year for the next three years. Earnings per share are expected to grow in the mid-single digits over three years because of greater revenue opportunities from the investments.

Total wireless investments from Project VIP will be $8 billion, and $6 billion for wired investments.

On the wired side, AT&T said it would expand its U-Verse system for broadband Internet by about a third, adding 8.5 million locations for a total of 33 million. Also, U-Verse speeds will be improved to up to 75 Mbps. AT&T plans to expand its fiber network to reach another 1million business customers.

The plan covers many of the capital improvements also being carried out by Verizon Communications and its wireless subsidiary as well as Sprint, although on a different pace and scale.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson called the technologies in the project "logical extensions" of projects AT&T has done before. "We are very confident in our ability to execute this plan."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Read more about wireless carriers in Computerworld's Wireless Carriers Topic Center.

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