AT&T CEO John Stankey (pictured) expressed optimism about the company’s fixed wireless access (FWA) service during a call to discuss Q1 earnings, but outlined a different approach than rivals Verizon and T-Mobile US by explaining it is a niche service.

Stankey stated AT&T views FWA as a way to provide business and home broadband in places where it does not have fibre and is still using copper.

He noted its Internet Air tariff “is a product for every state”, but said AT&T does not plan to promote it the same way as rivals.

“Wireless networks aren’t particularly the best place to take a single-family home that streams hours and hours of video a day and try to serve them with $50 a month product or service,” he said, adding it is not a sustainable model in the long term.

AT&T believes fibre is a better investment than juggling 5G spectrum to serve a large FWA footprint. But Stankey said there are some businesses, especially those that have a convergence of fixed and mobile needs, which are well-served by FWA.

He stated it is ideal for small- and-medium-sized businesses in remote locations which do not require always-on video streaming.

“I’d like to participate in that market aggressively and I will go after it as aggressively as my competitors by picking up any of those business customers that I can on a national basis.”

AT&T is years behind its rivals for deploying FWA, launching a consumer tariff in August 2023 and then targeting businesses last month.

CFO Pascal Desroches said the service is available in parts of 95 locations.

AT&T now has more than 200,000 consumer subscribers for Internet Air after adding 110,000 in Q1.

“While it’s still early, we’ve been very pleased with the solid demand we’re seeing from businesses,” Stankey said.

Earlier this week, Verizon reported 203,000 consumer and 151,000 business FWA subscriber additions.

AT&T added 349,000 post-paid phone net customers, down 17.7 per cent from Q1 2023.

Stankey noted post-paid churn of 0.72 per cent is its lowest Q1 churn on record.

He played down the potential for a mooted generative AI-enabled mobile device to reignite subscriber upgrades which slowed in the period.

Mobility service revenue increased 3.3 per cent year-on-year to $16 billion.

The operator expects wireless service revenue growth of around 3 per cent for the full year.

Net income attributable to shareholders of $3.4 billion was down 15.8 per cent with revenue flat at $30 billion.