In a keynote presentation this week at the Deutsche Bank 2018 Media, Telecom and Business Services Conference, AT&T SVP and CFO John Stephens likened the carrier’s build out of FirstNet to building a house and leaving room to add 5G.

Stephens said the unanimous opt-in for FirstNet, a nationwide LTE network for first responders, gives AT&T the ability to conduct one network build that puts FirstNet into service, upgrades the existing LTE network and allows for a software-based roll out of 5G. AWS, WCS and the 700 MHz FirstNet spectrum are put into service “on a very economic basis because we can do one tower climb, we have the crane out there once, we have the people out there once, and they put all three pieces of spectrum in at once.” Stephens said the simultaneous deployment of carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO and other technologies “will add tremendous depth, coverage and speed to our network. If we can build efficiently, we’ll spend more money up front to get it done. We’ll invest more earlier as long as we can do it efficiently.”

Characterizing 5G as an evolution–AT&T’s gigabit LTE branding is billed as “5G Evolution”–Stephens said bolstering gigabit LTE in tandem with the FirstNet deployment is the first step. Second step, fiber; he said the carrier presently has fiber to 15 million business and consumer locations, and will increase that to 22 million by July 2019.

“Fiber is key and it’s a key in not only delivering to the home or to the business, but for backhaul support. That’s another step. If you think about using millimeter wave to do backhaul for small cells in really congested areas. We have tested that and we have we have used millimeter wave to do that. You’ll see us put 5G into the core network. All of those things though are going to have be measured by when the chipsets are ready for the handsets.” In the longer-term, he mentioned AR/VR, robotics and “things on the edge” as “where the business cases will take us, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Time Warner deal high priority for AT&T

Stephens also provided an update on AT&T’s $85 billion bid to acquire Time Warner, which is being challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice as harmful to competition in the space. The two sides meet in court on March 19.

“We’ve got to get that done,” Stephens said. “We’re gonna get that done. I think everyone can understand we’re in the middle of litigation. We believe 50 years of history with antitrust and our position is strong and we expect to prevail. You think about what we bring to Time Warner and that is this information, this data, this capability to help them run their business better.”





The post AT&T CFO on the business benefits of FirstNet and 5G appeared first on RCR Wireless News.