AT&T CFO John Stephens (pictured) revealed the operator is sizing up a fixed-wireless 5G launch as well as a much-publicised mobile service.
Speaking during an investor conference, Stephens said AT&T already tested mmWave fixed-wireless applications. He noted the operator’s existing “extensive fibre footprint” and FirstNet construction plans put it in prime position to deploy fixed-wireless service, but said AT&T is still weighing whether the use case will yield sufficient revenue to be viable.
“The challenge on that is…where do you offload it, get it onto the network and what those costs are,” Stephens explained.
AT&T’s CFO said he wouldn’t rule out the fixed-wireless opportunity for the company, but cast doubt on other operators’ ability to successfully launch the same: “Without those other [fibre and FirstNet] assets, it’s a really difficult use case to prove out.”
In addition to using mmWave for wireless and potentially fixed-wireless services, Stephens added AT&T is considering the use of mmWave for 5G backhaul. Particularly, he said AT&T tested mmWave to provide backhaul to small cells in “really congested areas”. T-Mobile trialled similar technology in November 2017
In February, AT&T completed its acquisition of FiberTower, which netted the operator an average of 375MHz of 39GHz spectrum in the top 100 US markets. The company said it plans to put the mmWave spectrum to work later this year as part of its mobile 5G rollout.