AT&T SVP John Stephens updates on DSS, mmWave and 5G
Speaking this week at the virtual Oppenheimer Technology, Internet and Communication Conference, AT&T SVP and CFO John Stephens provided a wide-ranging update on the company’s efforts to land subscribers to its dedicated public safety network, next steps following nationwide 5G availability, and changes in the leadership structure at Warner Media.
FirstNet is a nationwide LTE network with a dedicated evolved packet core that serves various first responder and public safety agencies. According to Stephens, the build-out of FirstNet is 80% complete–nine months ahead of schedule–and has attracted about 1.5 million connections.
Stephens said FirstNet is already “faster than our core network,” available to consumers and enterprises. He also said FirstNet “is going to be 5G-enabled.” More specific on how users are getting onto the network, “We’re seeing somewhere between two and three, generally almost three connections, that we sell per person. So when we…sell you a phone, and generally you buy two other devices at the same time, whether it’s a phone for your spouse, family or whether it’s a tablet or whether — in some cases, whether it’s a body camera or some other device. So the ability to get that first sale is really important because of it’s multiple.”
On the 5G front, AT&T recently announced it had reached “nationwide” availability; the operator is also using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing to toggle between LTE and 5G depending on UE demands. AT&T’s wide area 5G coverage depends on its 850 MHz spectrum while the carrier has millimeter wave spectrum deployed in parts of more than 30 markets.
Stephens made the point that 5G-compatible devices not just in the premium tier will help drive subscriber conversion. “We want it to be available on kind of not the special devices or not new devices, but kind of the normal roll-up of devices, and that’s the critical piece.”
Regarding DSS, “I think it’s going to roll out further. That will help in the utilization of the spectrum…It makes it much more efficient.” On millimeter wave, he said AT&T has spectrum licenses “that will satisfy our needs on a national basis.”