As AT&T proceeds with plans to unbundle itself, rumors have been swirling about the future of AT&T Broadband.
Depending on whos talking, AT&T may decide to roll its cable business into its consumer services division or sell it to other cable companies.
By purchasing Tele-Communications Inc. in 1999 and MediaOne Group in 2000, AT&T acquired 16 million basic cable subscribers and a significant presence in 18 of the largest 20 markets.
But simply building the worlds biggest cable operator was never AT&Ts goal. It intended to compete against the regional Bells, offering local phone service, long-distance, high-speed data services and future interactive services over cable.
Citing a quiet period, AT&T declined to comment on the record. But after spending millions of dollars on digital upgrades, AT&T Broadband had signed just 1.1 million data customers and 560,000 phone customers by the end of 2000. Although both programs beat their goals, fewer than 2 million customers out of 28 million homes passed wasnt fast enough growth for Wall Street.
This year, AT&T Broadband President and CEO Daniel E. Somers is focusing on a revenue growth target of 25 percent, to be achieved by signing more customers in upgraded areas, selling existing customers more services and growing margins by 3 percent.
A technical trial of AT&T Broadband Choice — AT&Ts plan to let other Internet providers onto its cable modem network — finished this winter in Boulder, Colo. Other products in testing include video-on-demand and interactive television services.
AT&T is spinning off Liberty Media, the old TCI programming venture, as a separate company. Federal filings for a stock offering of AT&T Broadband are expected this summer.