SBC Adds 105K Dish Subs


SBC Communications Inc. said it will speed up its fiber-to-the-node rebuild from five years to less than three years, which will allow it to offer Internet-protocol TV and "super-high-speed" broadband.

CEO Ed Whitacre discussed the FTTN acceleration Thursday as the company announced quarterly results that featured 402,000 digital-subscriber-line additions and 105,000 EchoStar Communications Corp. Dish Network direct-broadcast satellite subscribers.

SBC said its acceleration plans stemmed from the Federal Communications Commission's decision last week to allow telcos to rebuild plant without opening up their networks to competitors.

Whitacre said SBC will offer consumers "unlimited content choice" through IPTV, in additional to high-speed service beyond current DSL speeds.

Compared with Verizon Communications' fiber-to-the-premises plans, Whitacre said, SBC will be able to deliver the same services at one-quarter of the cost in one-quarter of the time.

The company has selected Alcatel to be its primary supplier for its “Project LightSpeed” FTTN rebuild. The contract is valued at $1.7 billion over five years. SBC expects to pass 18 million of its 30 million homes by the end of 2007.

SBC now counts 226,000 Dish subscribers after adding 101,000 in the second quarter. Monthly revenue per subscriber was $60, with 84% of subscribers bundling Dish with another SBC service.

SBC said that in the 12 million homes not slated to be passed by LightSpeed, it will continue to market Dish subscriptions. The telco is working on a set-top box for those homes that would allow it to offer high-speed Internet access through DSL.

The company's 402,000 DSL additions marked its second-best total in history, giving it 4.7 million. While the company added 657,000 wireless subscribers, it lost 119,000 retail lines.

Overall, SBC reported earnings of $1.2 billion on revenue of $2.1 billion in the quarter.