When AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson announced plans to pause the company’s fiber network rollout earlier this month, we weren’t really sure what to think. Neither was the FCC, which quickly published a letter asking for clarification. Now, AT&T has responded, backtracking on the initial threat.
Stephenson’s original statement was tied to the FCC’s upcoming ruling on net neutrality. “We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” he said at the time, referring to a planned expansion announced back in April.
In its official response this week, AT&T claimed that plans to bring its high-speed GigaPower network to at least 25 major metropolitan areas are still on track, though any expansion beyond that is up for debate. “While we have reiterated that we will stand by the commitments described above, this uncertainty makes it prudent to pause consideration of any further investments,” wrote AT&T Senior VP Robert Quinn.
The FCC’s ruling could have a huge effect on AT&T’s fiber network plans, essentially deciding whether the carrier can charge some companies extra for access to “fast lane” internet. Hopefully this means AT&T’s promise of faster internet won’t hinge on the future of net neutrality, though until the FCC makes a final decision, all bets are off.