AT&T chief talks FWA potential, as earnings waver - Mobile World Live

AT&T chief talks FWA potential, as earnings waver

30 JAN 2019

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson predicted 5G will have the same impact on home broadband as 2G services had on fixed-line voice services almost two decades ago.

Speaking on the operator’s Q4 2018 earnings call, Stephenson said 5G could displace traditional home broadband solutions within three to five years, stating he is “convinced we will have the capacity, particularly as we turn up millimetre wave spectrum” to make a wireless broadband product viable.

In September 2018, AT&T said it would begin rolling out FWA service to customers using LTE technology in late 2019 before upgrading to 5G at a later date.

Subscriber metrics
The comments came as AT&T posted weak Q4 results following a decision to back-off promotional activity and focus on debt reduction in the wake of its $85 billion Time Warner acquisition.

Post paid subscription gains across phones, wearables and tablets totalled 13,000  as tablet losses of 410,000 offset net additions in the former two categories.

AT&T added 134,000 valuable post paid phone connections, but that figure was down substantially from 329,000 in Q4 2017, and was also well behind the 1 million and 650,000 phone users added by T-Mobile US and Verizon (respectively) in the recent period.

Stephenson insisted AT&T can sustain its wireless segment without increasing promotional activities, but said it will “do what we need to”. Growth from its FirstNet network for emergency responders will be a “significant driver” of subscriber additions throughout the rest of 2019.

Earnings
Wireless revenue in Q4 dropped 2.1 per cent year-on-year to $18.8 billion, which the operator attributed primarily to accounting changes. On a comparable basis, AT&T wireless revenue was broadly flat (down 0.6 per cent) due to a drop in equipment revenue.

Consolidated revenue of $48 billion was up 15 per cent, driven by gains from the Time Warner deal.

While net income attributable to AT&T dropped to $4.86 billion from $19 billion in Q4 2017, the latter figure included a substantial one-time boost from tax changes.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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