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Never mind your iPhone service problems. The arm of AT&T that delivers Internet service to small businesses has announced plans to invest roughly $1 billion through the end of 2010, “to expand small business services within the United States and to continue extending its network globally,” according to a detailed press release published from AT&T’s Dallas headquarters on Tuesday morning.

AT&T’s president and CEO of business solutions, Ron Spears, said in a prepared statement, “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.”

What he means is, AT&T wants to be in place as the data communications provider of choice as small businesses start spending again. And hopefully those dropped iPhone calls in the middle of a business deal will be a bad memory soon.

A billion dollars sounds like a lot, but AT&T’s capital expenditures for just the fourth quarter of 2009 totalled $5.5 billion.

The official list of features runs long. Here’s the 100-word de-jargonized version for Americans:

  • 24 megabit speeds — AT&T says it will boost speeds “where possible” in 120 markets across 22 U.S. states, specifically for small businesses.
  • Scalable application services — This is the Cloud we’re always yakking about. AT&T is spending to make its cloud services better suited for small business needs. “Scalable” means you won’t have to change systems abruptly as you grow, or pay for too much capacity when you start out.
  • Enterprise mobility — The company says it will enhance Wi-Fi and wireless LTE (4G) services for small businesses.
  • Global expansion — AT&T claims its network reaches 99 percent of the global economy. But the company also announced plans to upgrade 27 countries. Hopefully they’ll hook up everyone else before we all kill each other.

Global video conferencing is one of AT&T’s major goals. The company plans to add telepresence offices that can be used for cheaper-than-flying business meetings in many cities, from Toronto to Brussels to Campinas in Brazil and Cyberjava in Malaysia. Today’s announcement didn’t list any partners or products. Teleconferencing startups take note: There may be room for a deal with AT&T yet.

How will all these services be connected? AT&T is adding more undersea cables for optimum performance. Underwater cables may not be as cool as a satellite, but they can handle hundreds of gigabits per second with less delay than bouncing the signal off the sky.

There’s a lot more, including plans for healthcare services, in AT&T’s press release.

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