AT&T (NYSE: T) says it will expand the reach of its U-Verse wired high-speed broadband service beyond previous plans in North Carolina and the other 21 states where it provides services and also expand its nationwide 4G LTE technology wireless broadband network.

AT&T says it had considered selling off its phone lines in outlying areas, but instead it will expand investments in U-Verse in core areas and try to move customers in outlying areas from copper phone lines to wireless services.

Just how much of AT&T’s effort will take place in North Carolina is note known.

“Through Project Velocity IP, AT&T plans to invest $14 billion over the next three years to significantly expand our wireless and wireline broadband networks, and that will mean additional investment in our 22-state wireline service area as well as in states where we provide wireless services,” AT&T spokesperson Josh Gelinas told WRAL news.

“However, it’s too early to discuss investment on a state-by-state basis,” he added.

Cynthia Marshall, president of AT&T North Carolina, hailed the announcement.

“Just as new roads paved the way for growth and opportunity in North Carolina’s rural areas in the early decades of the 20th Century, broadband technology will connect residents and businesses with even greater opportunities in the 21st century,” she said.
“We are excited about our plan to deploy more broadband technology across the state, for we know it will help create new jobs, deliver improved health care services and empower new educational opportunities. We are also grateful for the hard work of North Carolina’s leaders over many years to create a public policy climate that encourages private investment that builds our state.”

Like other phone companies, AT&T is having a hard time competing with cable companies in home broadband in places where it offers only non-U-verse DSL services. U-Verse is expensive to build out, but puts AT&T on a more equal footing with cable speeds.

AT&T also recently announced a partnership with IBM to provide “cloud computing” services.

U-Verse is available to 24.5 million homes. AT&T says it will expand it to 30.3 million.

AT&T provides traditional phone service in major parts of North Carolina, including much of the Triangle.

4G LTE service is available in Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Burlington, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Raleigh, Fayetteville and Wilmington.

“We continue to expand in these areas,” Gelinas added.

N.C. Governor Bev Perdue likes the idea of more broadband access, especially in rural areas.

“AT&T’s announcement today that they plan to invest $14 billion in expanded deployment of broadband service in rural areas is terrific news for the country and for North Carolina,” Perdue said in a statement. “The availability of advanced communications is crucial for economic growth and competitiveness. This commitment by AT&T will create new opportunities for citizens and businesses alike. AT&T has a long history of investing in North Carolina, bringing new jobs and technology here while also giving back through active corporate citizenship programs. They are exactly the kind of business partner we like to have in North Carolina.”

4G LTE Expansion

AT&T said its expansion of high-speed wireless would reach 300 million people by the end of 2014, a target of 50 million more people than set for the end of 2013.

Recent wireless spectrum acquisitions are enabling the growth, AT&T said.

Wireline Growth

The expansion of wireline broadband to support the U-Verse service calls for it to be available to 75 percent of all customers within its 22-state traditional service area, AT&T noted. AT&T wants to increase its market reach by one third to 22 million potential customers.

AT&T also wants to expand its high-speed Internet and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to 24 million.

The company also says it will increase download speeds to as much as 75 megabits per second.

Additionally, AT&T also plans to add more high-speed fiber access to multi-tenant business buildings.

Other Plans

AT&T also announced:

  • “AT&T Digital Life. A nationwide all IP-based home security and automation service set to launch in 2013 that will let consumers manage their home from virtually any device — smartphone, tablet or PC.
  • “Mobile Premise Solutions. This new nationwide service, available today, is an alternative for wireline voice service and in the future will include high-speed IP Internet data services.
  • “Mobile Wallet. AT&T is participating in the ISIS mobile wallet joint venture. Market trials are underway in Austin, Tex. and Salt Lake City today.
  • “Connected Car. More than half of new vehicles are expected to be wirelessly connected by 2016. AT&T is positioned to lead the industry as the company’s capabilities expand from vehicle diagnostics and real time traffic updates to consumer-facing applications that tie into retail wireless subscriber data plans. AT&T already has deals with leading manufacturers such as Ford, Nissan and BMW.
  • “With business customers, AT&T expects Project VIP will strengthen its ability to pursue multiple new billion-dollar business opportunities in four key growth areas: strategic network services, cloud, security and mobility solutions.”