AT&T focused on overseas network expansion

AT&T plans to add DSL and Ethernet access to its MPLS network in several countries

With its US$86 billion BellSouth acquisition completed, AT&T has its sights set on the rest of the world.

The carrier is planning to expand the reach of its DSL, Ethernet and Wi-Fi support around the world, says Bill Archer, senior vice president of product management at AT&T.

In the second half of 2006 AT&T made inroads into China. Archer says the carrier will be doing more of the same in 2007 with plans to expand its network presence in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt and Morocco.

"The first level of investment is in reach and depth of [AT&T's] footprint and to enable our customers to have access to our network," Archer says.

AT&T plans to add DSL and Ethernet access to its MPLS network in several countries this year, Archer says. "Our objective is to be in roughly 25 countries with DSL access . . . and 26 countries with Ethernet access to our MPLS network."

The carrier also plans to "deepen its footprint and presence in key countries by interconnecting [AT&T's] network with those of incumbent operators," Archer says.

In some countries, regulatory and other issues make it difficult for U.S.-owned carriers like AT&T to deploy their own network assets. But by striking deals with incumbents, AT&T can offer customers the same MPLS-based services it does in the United States, Europe and Canada, he says. This is how AT&T expanded into China, for example.

Although Archer says AT&T's first choice is to own its own network assets, partnering with incumbent, in-country carriers allows AT&T to have a presence throughout the world.

AT&T also plans to expand its wireless reach for mobile workers worldwide, Archer says. Today AT&T has roaming agreements with global providers to support an aggregate network of 30,000 Wi-Fi hot spots that customers can use to access their corporate networks from all corners of the globe. Archer says that pool of hot spots is expected to grow to about 50,000 in 2007.

In addition, AT&T is "steadily bringing [Cingular Wireless]services together with AT&T services," he says. "That will happen in stages." Cingular, which has been renamed AT&T, also has mobile wireless data roaming agreements with wireless service providers around the world giving AT&T wireless customers access in more than 100 countries.

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