AT&T Expands 5G and Fiber Nationwide

Posted on August 2, 2023

AT&T Expands 5G and Fiber Nationwide

AT&T Expands 5G and Fiber to Connect Rural, Urban and Tribal Communities Nationwide

Nationwide Coverage Surpasses 2.91 Million Square Miles; Tribal Land Coverage Increases by 40% in Last 2 Years

What’s the news? From Fiber to 5G, AT&T* has hit significant network milestones that are aggressively expanding coverage, increasing capacity and strengthening network resiliency. Over the past 5 years (2018–2022), AT&T invested more than $140 billion primarily in our U.S. wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisitions of wireless spectrum.1 It’s helping us open the door to a world of possibility for people and businesses across the AT&T network and helping first responders save lives with mission-critical connectivity on the FirstNet® network. See how we’re doing it:

Setting the bar for network resiliency: We’re focused on becoming the best, biggest and most resilient network in America. Last year, we led the industry by establishing a 3rd “emergency” pathway to each mobility network hub (MTSO) to combat extreme weather and climate events as well as increasing instabilities in the commercial power infrastructure landscape. Thanks to this initiative, we’ve reduced the likelihood of major outages by nearly 35%. And we’re undergoing the largest refresh of our power backup systems in the history of our network – investing millions of dollars in generators, batteries and systems to help keep our network up and running when there is a local power outage. In addition, using network digital twin, we’re able to simplify processes, model resiliency measures and forecast how to optimize our build. And we’ve been working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to model future climate impacts through our Climate Change Analysis Tool. These insights are helping us make data-driven decisions for how we prioritize resiliency investments for the future. And when Mother Nature does strike, we’re at the ready with one of the largest and most advanced disaster recovery programs of its kind.

Connecting people on the go: We have the best global coverage of any U.S. wireless provider.2 And with the largest wireless network in America,3 we now cover more than 2.91 million square miles. That’s an increase of about 100,000 square miles in 2022, or like covering the entire United Kingdom. And we’ve grown America’s Most Reliable 5G Network4 to reach 290 million people in nearly 24,000 cities and towns across the U.S.

We’ve also increased coverage by more than 40% on federally recognized tribal lands in the last 2 years (2020 – 2022) thanks to public-private partnerships like FirstNet and those created through the American Rescue Plan, as well as our own investment initiatives. This includes places like Cherokee Nation in Kenwood, Oklahoma where people previously had to drive more than 10 miles to get mobile cell service.

Plus, as of the end of 2022, more than 150 million people could take advantage of our mid-band 5G spectrum – more than double our original end-of-year 2022 target. We also doubled the number of venues and airports with AT&T 5G+ last year to now bring super-fast speeds and increased connectivity to parts of more than 50 cities and nearly 70 venues and airports in the U.S.

Connecting first responders: As America’s public safety’s communications partner, we’re giving more of the public safety community access to their network. FirstNet already covers 99%+ of the U.S. population, covering more first responders than any network5. And now public safety on FirstNet has access to 250,000+ more square miles than competing commercial network offerings. We’ve also surpassed 99%+ of our Band 14 coverage target with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), delivering more dedicated connectivity to federal, state, tribal, territorial, urban and rural first responders when they need it.

Building a network for tomorrow: Fiber is our foundation. In fact, we have so much fiber that you could stretch it to the moon and back 3 times. In 2022, we laid more than 60,000 miles of fiber in the U.S. alone. All that fiber helps carry more than 594 petabytes of data traffic on an average day, up 23% year-over-year (or the equivalent of streaming nearly 40 million 2-hour long movies in HD).

And as the nation’s largest fiber internet provider,6 we’re committed to providing more Americans with access to reliable, high-speed broadband. This is critical as people are consuming roughly 30 times more data in their own homes than on the go with smartphones. Currently, AT&T Fiber is available to more households than any other fiber internet service.6 And we’ve passed 24 million locations – including 4 million business locations – in 100+ U.S. metros7 – that’s on track to pass 30+ million locations by the end of 2025.

As much as we depend on connectivity today, we think this is only the beginning. It’s why we’re also testing and helping develop innovative, out-of-this-world satellite solutions for remote and challenging geographic locations. This includes our collaboration with AST SpaceMobile on testing the first-of-its-kind space-based cellular broadband network (i.e., voice, text and video) accessible directly by standard mobile phones – helping to one day keep you connected, anywhere.

Learn more about coverage in your local area or read more FirstNet news.

What are people saying?

Chris Sambar
Head of AT&T Network

“Society thrives on connection. And our people, resources and expertise are what’s making AT&T the best connectivity provider. These network milestones reinforce this, and we’ll continue to expand and fortify our infrastructure to give more communities – rural, urban and tribal – access to the connectivity we all rely on.”

Lynda Zambrano
Executive Director, National Tribal Emergency Management Council

“There has been historical underinvestment in broadband infrastructure on Tribal Nations. FirstNet, Built with AT&T is helping tackle this problem by making buildout for Tribal communities a priority. With this expanded connectivity, Tribal first responders have new tools to help them communicate and coordinate their emergency operations to serve our tribal communities.”

Click here to read the full article from AT&T.

Verizon’s new 5G monetization strategy ‘a losing battle’

Posted on June 28, 2023

Verizon’s new 5G monetization strategy ‘a losing battle’

Verizon this week slimmed down the number of its 5G pricing options. But the operator continues to position its speedy midband 5G network as a premium offering that customers need to pay extra for.

That, according to one financial analyst firm, may not fly in an industry where Verizon’s competitors aren’t charging extra for fast 5G.

“Trying to convince customers they have to pay extra for 5G UWB [ultra wideband] service is likely a losing battle as consumers are likely aware other providers will provide midband 5G for free,” wrote the financial analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets in a note to investors of Verizon’s new pricing plans.

But the executive driving Verizon’s new 5G strategy argued that the operator is making the right decision by putting 5G at the heart of its new pricing gambit.

“It’s the network,” said Verizon’s new Consumer Group CEO, Sowmyanarayan Sampath, during a recent investor event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. He said Verizon’s “ultra wideband” 5G network is the operator’s “advanced network with all the bells and whistles.”

He added: “We have the best network on Earth.”

That, of course, is up for debate. Although Verizon continues to cite research showing the superiority of its 5G network, its rivals also make the same argument based on other competing research.

Broadly, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are all in the midst of upgrading their 5G networks with midband spectrum in an effort to offer faster connections. But T-Mobile has enjoyed a headstart on the effort, and partly as a result is gaining customers amid an improvement in customers’ perception of its network.

Going from six to two

In its new announcement this week, Verizon said it would replace its previous pricing plans (dubbed “Mix & Match” and stretching across six options) with a new offering called “myPlan” that offers just two choices: Unlimited Welcome for $65 per month for one line of service, and Unlimited Plus for $80 per month for a single line of service.

The main difference between the two choices is that Unlimited Welcome doesn’t give customers access to Verizon’s “ultra wideband” 5G network and Unlimited Plus does. Unlimited Plus also offers 30GB of hotspot data and won’t cap or slow customers’ speeds. Unlimited Welcome presumably will include caps and throttles, though Verizon officials didn’t provide details. Update: After the plans launched, Stetson Doggett noted on Twitter that Unlimited Welcome will connect to Verizon’s “ultra wideband” network but will throttle speeds to 25 Mbit/s.



Verizon introduced two new pricing options that put 5G at the center of the customers' decision. Click here for a larger version of this image. (Source: Verizon)

Verizon introduced two new pricing options that put 5G at the center of the customers’ decision. Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Verizon)



Verizon’s “ultra wideband” 5G network runs over its midband and highband, millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum holdings, while its standard 5G network only works on its slower, lowband network. (The operator is poised to add more midband spectrum into its network later this year thanks to ongoing C-band clearing efforts.)

Verizon doesn’t specify exactly how fast its various 5G options are, but noted that its “ultra wideband” 5G network is 10x faster than its 4G network.

After customers choose which flavor of Verizon 5G they want, then they can add “perks” to their plan ranging from international data to additional hotspot data to the Disney+ streaming service. Each “perk” costs $10 per month. Verizon’s Sampath said Verizon earns an average of 30% gross margin on the sale of such perks.

The wider context

Verizon’s new pricing plans come at an important time for the company.

First, the company is struggling to reverse almost a year of customer losses. Those losses stand in stark contrast to the millions of new customers that T-Mobile, AT&T, Charter Communications and Comcast have gained during the same period.

In part to address the situation, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg recently put Sampath in charge of Verizon’s consumer business after a short stint leading the company’s business division, among other executive shuffling. And the changes appear to continue to ripple through the company; Verizon’s longtime marketing chief, Diego Scotti, recently left the company, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Sampath, for his part, appears to be making a big bet on Verizon’s new plans. He argued they would help rekindle growth among Verizon’s customer base.

Moreover, like other executives in the space, he predicted that overall growth in the wireless industry will slow in the coming months. He said he expects the industry to eventually grow by 5-6 million customers each year, rather than the 10 million-customer-per-year pace it’s been growing in recent years.

That slowdown might be a good thing for Verizon, he said. “It’s actually better for an incumbent like us to continue driving more pricing power in the market,” Sampath argued.

Some remain skeptical.

“Verizon’s new rate plans will raise prices for many consumers who opt to purchase add-on services,” wrote the KeyBanc analysts. “Both of these are likely headwinds for gross additions. Verizon’s basic pricing is still 2x+ the comparable offering of the Cable providers. Further, Verizon has been trying to convince investors of their ability to migrate consumers to higher tier rate plans, and while this could be ARPA [average revenue per account] accretive if multiple ‘perks’ are purchased, we don’t believe consumers receive incremental value or allow Verizon to capture incremental value.”

Click here to read the full article from Light Reading.

AT&T leases spectrum to AST SpaceMobile

Posted on June 2, 2023

AT&T leases spectrum to AST SpaceMobile

AT&T is moving closer to making satellite-to-cellular calling a reality by entering a long-term spectrum lease agreement with AST SpaceMobile. In an FCC filing, AT&T said that it will lease to AST certain 850 MHz cellular A and B block spectrum as well as certain lower 700 MHz B and C block spectrum.

An AT&T spokeswoman explained that the leases are ‘non-exclusive’ and that AST’s satellites will not transmit in areas covered by AT&T’s terrestrial cellular network. “For example, we might cover 80 percent of the area of a 700 MHz license, and AST could train spot beams on the remainder,” she said.

In the FCC filing, AT&T further elaborated on the deal, noting that AST intends to provide broadband access “directly to AT&T customer handsets that operate on the Leased Spectrum, without any modifications or the use of special chipsets, and without the buildout of any additional terrestrial wireless infrastructure.”

AT&T further noted that this arrangement includes providing temporary coverage after natural disasters.

The lease arrangement is intended to begin immediately but AST must get FCC approval before it can start transmitting in the designated spectrum bands.

AT&T’s decision to lease spectrum to AST SpaceMobile demonstrates the operator’s growing support for direct satellite-to-cellular communications. This announcement comes just a few weeks after AST completed what it claims is the first direct voice connection from space on an unmodified smartphone. That test call, which was conducted in Midland, Texas, used AT&T’s Band 5/850 MHz spectrum and was conducted over a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone.

Click here to read the full article from Fierce Wireless.