On April 22nd, AT&T reported that its first-quarter earnings were unchanged from the first three months of last year, but revenue grew as the wireless business added 1,062,000 wireless subscribers in the quarter. That includes 625,000 smartphones and tablets in “post-paid” plans. Wireless service revenue grew 2 percent to $15.4 billion. Total wireless revenue, including phones and tablets sales, grew 7 percent to $17.9 billion.
First-quarter net income was $3.7 billion, or 70 cents per share, compared with $3.7 billion, or 67 cents, a year earlier, when AT&T had more shares outstanding. Adjusting for one-time items, including costs related to its March acquisition of Leap Wireless, income was 71 cents per share, compared with 64 cents in the same period last year. Analysts expected 70 cents. Revenue grew 4 percent to $32.5 billion, better than the $32.4 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet.
“Customers really like the new mobility value proposition and are choosing to move off device subsidies to simpler pricing while at the same time, they are continuing to move to smartphones with larger data plans,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement.
In the landline business, revenue fell 0.4 percent to $14.6 billion. But its newer U-verse phone, TV and Internet service experienced solid growth. AT&T had 634,000 additional high-speed Internet subscribers and 201,000 TV subscribers.
The company plans a major expansion of it’s newly announced gigabit Internet service.
AT&T says it is ready to offer its fiber-based GigaPower in many more cities, and has opened negotiations with more than 20 municipalities to discuss the viability of fiber to the home for its high-speed U-verse triple play service platform. The proposed expansion, a component of the carrier’s Project Velocity IP initiative, could see the delivery of 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-home service in a number of major metropolitan areas including Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Most of those new markets are currently served by Comcast and Time Warner Cable (which have agreed to merge). AT&T will only build out U-verse fiber to the home where it sees sufficient demand and a decent ROI.
AT&T executives have told investors recently that the deal has led them to recalibrate their priorities, prompting a more aggressive upgrade of their network. Lori Lee, Sr Executive VP of AT&T Home Solutions, said in a WSJ interview that the move would make AT&T a tougher competitor for the cable industry.
Earlier this month, AT&T said it was in advanced talk to bring speeds of up to one gigabit per second to six North Carolina cities, in addition to its current upgrading of Austin and plans for a similar service in Dallas.
The rollout is happening as Google builds up its own network of fiber in cities like Austin and Kansas City, Kans. In February, Google said it was eyeing dozens of municipalities where it wanted to expand its fiber network.
AT&T said Monday (April 21st) that it is looking to bring its higher speed service to Kansas City and the surrounding area, which was Google’s first location for its fiber service.
AT&T said the upgrades will fall under its planned spending to upgrade the bulk of its network to run on Internet technologies and won’t affect its 2014 budget.
The new cities are mostly ones where AT&T already offers its U-verse Internet and television services. AT&T has built a fiber-based network for the U-verse service, but typically uses copper wire to make the final connections to buildings.
AT&T has already begun to roll out GigaPower in pockets of Austin, Texas, starting off with a 300 Austin, Texas, starting off with symmetrical speeds, and expecting to upgrade that to 1 Gbps by mid-2014. AT&T has previously announced plans to roll GigaPower to Dallas this summer and that it is in “advanced discussions” with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to bring GigaPower to six cities in North Carolina, including Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem.
Here’s an updated list of current and potential AT&T U-verse GigaPower markets, and the incumbent cable operator that serves each market:
- Atlanta, Ga. (Alpharetta, Atlanta, Decatur, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, McDonough, Marietta, Newnan, Norcross, and Woodstock). Incumbent MSO: Comcast
- Augusta, Ga. Incumbent MSO: Comcast
- Austin, Texas. Incumbent MSO: Time Warner Cable
- Charlotte, N.C. (Charlotte, Gastonia, and Huntersville). Incumbent MSO: TWC.
- Chicago, Ill. (Chicago, Des Plaines, Glenview, Lombard, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Park Ridge, Skokie, and Wheaton). Incumbent MSO: Comcast
- Cleveland, Ohio (Akron, Barberton, Bedford, Canton, Cleveland, and Massillon). Incumbent MSOs: TWC and MCTV.
- Dallas, Texas (Dallas, Farmer’s Branch, Frisco, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, Irving, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson, and University Park). Incumbent MSO: TWC.
- Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- Fort Worth, Texas (Arlington, Euless, Fort Worth, and Haltom City). Incumbent MSOs: TWC and Charter Communications.
- Greensboro, N.C. Incumbent MSO: TWC.
- Jacksonville/St. Augustine, Fla. Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- Houston, Texas (Galveston, Houston, Katy, Pasadena, Pearland, and Spring). Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- Kansas City, Mo./Kan. (Independence, Kansas City, Leawood, Overland Park, and Shawnee). Incumbent providers: TWC, Comcast, SureWest, and Google Fiber (portions).
- Los Angeles, Calif. Incumbent MSO: TWC.
- Miami, Fla. (Hialeah, Hollywood, Homestead, Miami, Opa-Locka and Pompano Beach). Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- Nashville, Tenn. (Clarksville, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Smyrna and Spring Hill). Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- Oakland, Calif. Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- Orlando, Fla. (Melbourne, Oviedo, Orlando, Palm Coast, Rockledge, and Sanford). Incumbent MSO: Bright House Networks.
- Raleigh, Durham, N.C. (Apex, Garner, Morrisville, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh). Incumbent MSO: TWC.
- St. Louis, Mo. (Chesterfield, Edwardsville, Florissant, Granite City, and St. Louis). Incumbent MSO: Charter.
- San Antonio, Texas. Incumbent MSO: TWC.
- San Diego, Calif. Incumbent MSO: Cox Communications.
- San Francisco, Calif. Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- San Jose, Calif. (Campbell, Cupertino, Mountain View, and San Jose). Incumbent MSO: Comcast.
- Winston-Salem, N.C. Incumbent MSO: TWC.
Craig Moffett, senior research analyst at Moffet Nathanson Research, said in a recent research note that AT&T could be on the cusp of a grander GigaPower buildout plan that would help Google achieve its ambitions of nudging ISPs to beef up broadband capacity, but “on AT&T’s dime.”
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