The 5G takeaways from AT&T’s investor day

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AT&T on Friday hosted a two-and-a-half hour on-line analyst and investor assembly the place the corporate laid out its broad technique to exit the media trade and double down on promoting 5G and fiber connections.

Through the occasion, the corporate supplied a few of its monetary and enterprise expectations for 2022 and 2023, and a number of other firm officers mentioned precisely how AT&T plans to succeed in its targets.

Maybe the first aspect of AT&T’s technique includes shutting down its copper-based DSL community and constructing out fiber to roughly 30 million areas within the subsequent few years. “Wherever fiber goes, wi-fi follows,” boasted Jeff McElfresh, CEO, AT&T Communications.

That stated, AT&T did provide some new insights into its maturing 5G technique. Listed below are 4 5G takeaways from AT&T’s occasion:

1. AT&T’s midband 5G buildout trails these of Verizon and T-Cell.

AT&T execs stated the corporate expects to cowl 70 million folks with midband 5G connections by the tip of this 12 months. By the tip of 2023, AT&T stated it will enhance that quantity to 200 million folks. AT&T stated it expects to start deploying 80MHz of midband spectrum beginning this 12 months, and would develop that to 120MHz by the tip of 2023.

An AT&T technician installs a 5G radio. (Source: AT&T)

An AT&T technician installs a 5G radio.
(Supply: AT&T)

AT&T spent a complete of $36 billion throughout two current FCC spectrum auctions to accumulate its midband licenses. Midband spectrum is crucial to 5G as a result of it could help speedy connections alongside giant geographic protection areas. Additional, the quantity of midband spectrum that operators deploy can also be key – extra spectrum immediately equates to quicker speeds and extra community capability.

AT&T stated it is capital investments would complete $24 billion in 2022, of which $5 billion can be for deploying 5G spectrum. The corporate stated it expects to spend roughly the identical in capital investments in 2023.

Nevertheless it’s now clear that AT&T’s trails its rivals within the midband space. For instance, Verizon just lately stated it expects to cowl 175 million folks with round 60MHz of midband spectrum by the tip of this 12 months. On the finish of 2023, it expects to lift that to 160MHz of spectrum. By 2024, Verizon expects to cowl 250 million folks with midband 5G.

As for T-Cell, the corporate already covers round 210 million folks with 100MHz of midband spectrum, and expects to lift these figures to 300 million folks and 200MHz by 2023.

2. AT&T didn’t point out millimeter wave 5G.

AT&T officers didn’t point out the highband, millimeter wave (mmWave) taste of 5G as soon as throughout its occasion.

Nonetheless, that is not essentially a shock contemplating Apple just lately launched a brand new iPhone that doesn’t help mmWave 5G in any respect. Individually, T-Cell just lately refreshed its view of the 5G spectrum “layer cake” to take away an emphasis on mmWave.

Within the US, Verizon stays the one operator forcefully deploying mmWave. The corporate ended 2021 with round 30,000 mmWave transmission websites, and promised it will develop that quantity within the coming months and years.

“We see millimeter wave as a differentiator,” Verizon CTO Kyle Illness stated throughout his firm’s current analyst day. He stated round 30% of Verizon’s buyer base has a mmWave-capable machine, and that round 10% of the provider’s community site visitors now travels over mmWave in areas the place it’s accessible.

3. AT&T stays tired of FWA.

Though AT&T now instructions roughly the identical quantity of lowband and midband spectrum as Verizon, the corporate nonetheless would not plan to embark on a significant deployment of mounted wi-fi entry (FWA) know-how.

“We’re not against mounted wi-fi,” AT&T CEO John Stankey stated. Certainly, AT&T counts greater than 500,000 mounted wi-fi clients, in keeping with FierceWireless, of which round 130,000 are labeled as enterprise customers.

“The curve is transferring away from the scalability of wi-fi,” Stankey stated, explaining that the spectacular rise in residence broadband information site visitors signifies that fiber, not wi-fi, can meet demand.

“I am making the long term wager,” he stated. “Nothing goes to high fiber.”

That view contrasts with the methods of each Verizon and T-Cell. Verizon expects to document a complete of 4 million to five million FWA clients by 2025; T-Cell hopes to realize 7 million to eight million FWA clients throughout roughly the identical timeframe.

4. AT&T’s IoT enterprise stays fascinating.

AT&T was an early mover within the Web of Issues (IoT) area, and the corporate continues to boast of traction out there. Rasesh Patel, EVP and chief product and platform officer at AT&T, assigned a worth of $1.3 billion to the corporate’s IoT enterprise, noting it is rising at 18% year-over-year. On the finish of 2021, AT&T counted 95 million IoT gadgets on its community.

AT&T’s IoT successes are clearest within the automotive sector. The corporate counts 50 million automobiles within the US on its community that, AT&T claims, represents an 80% share of the market.

And Patel stated the auto trade goes by a “dramatic shift” to electrical and autonomous automobiles, which he stated would result in a 40-fold enhance in connectivity consumption amongst automobiles.

He stated AT&T just lately inked new, long-term connectivity agreements with GM, Ford, Nissian and Tesla.

Additional, he stated AT&T hopes to duplicate the strategy it took within the automotive trade – which included hiring a devoted gross sales power – in different trade verticals, particularly manufacturing and healthcare. He stated the corporate would accomplish that by applied sciences that embody edge computing and personal wi-fi networking.

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— Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Cell Methods, Gentle Studying | @mikeddano


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