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(NYSE: T) says it will spend $1 billion this year to broaden its network, enhance services for large businesses worldwide and expand its offerings for small businesses in the U.S.

“Despite the continuing challenges of today’s economic environment, we continue to deliver on our commitment to provide companies with the network-centric capabilities and applications they need to enhance their operations,” said Ron Spears, chief executive officer of AT&T Business Solutions, in a statement.

“[Internet Protocol]-based solutions and applications have become ever more important to companies aiming to take their productivity to a new level while transforming their operations to adapt to their customers’ changing needs,” he added.

In its announcement, AT&T said it planned to “scale” its “delivery of applications, mobility and cloud services for global companies, to expand small business services within the United States and to continue extending its network globally.”

Including this year’s planned investment, AT&T will have invested more than $4 billion since 2006 in business-focused network, systems and applications to provide a globally consistent set of robust and highly-secure services to the more than 3.5 million business customers it serves.

This will bring the huge telecommunications company’s investment in business-oriented networks, systems and services to more than $4 billion since 2006.

The spending is part of AT&T Inc.’s plan to keep pace with the continued shift from voice communication to data and video. AT&T’s network has been under growing strain due to increasing use of smartphones, in particular Apple’s iPhone.

The changes range from increasing U.S. broadband speeds to 24 times the slowest DSL speeds available over phone company copper wires to laying additional undersea cables to boost data flow capacity to Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

AT&T also plans to boost its mobile broadband capabilities, such as investing more in Wi-Fi and the next generation broadband technology called Long Term Evolution, so executives on the go can have smoother, easier online access. It will increase support for wireless devices, such as netbooks and electronic readers, for businesses.

“AT&T is capitalizing on the ongoing shift in network traffic from voice to data and video — and more importantly to IP-based data and video — as customers migrate from legacy data networks to MPLS-based virtual private networks and managed applications,” the company said.

Highlights of the plan, according to AT&T:

• “Scaling Application Services – Enhancing AT&T’s current portfolio of flexible collaboration services and applications such as managed hosting, cloud-based services, Telepresence, Unified Communications, Digital Media Solutions and security.

• “Enterprise Mobility Applications – Continuing AT&T’s focus on delivering mobile solutions, applications and integrated devices to companies of all sizes. This includes continued investment in LTE- and Wi-Fi-based applications to support the dramatic increase in demand for mobile broadband-based services.

• “Vertical Industry Focus – creating and deploying applications in the finance, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, education and government sectors, expanding its presence in emerging applications including markets such as machine-to- machine communication and rolling out fixed mobile convergence and location based solutions, along with mobile platform and portal enhancements.

• “Enhancing Small Business – deploying platforms and systems across its 22-state U.S. footprint to deliver an enhanced customer experience and to accelerate the provisioning of multiple products and services. AT&T also plans to increase broadband speeds up to 24 Mbps downstream where possible in more than 120 markets across AT&T’s 22-state U.S. footprint.

• “Global Network Expansion – continuing to build out its global network to deliver services and applications to the markets and geographies where multinational companies today are doing business and/or housing their operations. The AT&T network now reaches countries that represent 99% of the global economy.”

AT&T also plans to open a new Internet data center in London and increase download speeds for its Internet services in parts of its 22-state service area in the U.S.