AT&T’s network expansion is giving its customers “the full 5G experience” (?)
AT&T reports reaching at least 250 million people with low-band 5G, beating its milestone for its 5G network by six months. The carrier is also extending its 5G millimeter-wave infrastructure to 20 venues and areas in 38 cities. AT&T aims to deploy mmWave in 40 instances of each category this year, and has formed partnerships with companies such as Boingo Wireless to further 5G efforts in airports and other large indoor locations.
AT&T says it hopes its newly acquired 5G C-band spectrum (AT&T acquired 80 MHz of it during the most recent FCC auction) will cover 70 to 75 million Americans by the end of 2022, with the goal of increasing that number to 200 million by the end of 2023. Currently, AT&T says its standard 5G (aka sub-6GHz 5G) network covers more than 250 million people in the U.S., while its faster 5G+ network (aka mmWave 5G) is available in parts of 38 cities along with 20 stadiums and venues across the country. AT&T’s new mid-band spectrum will be faster than its low-band 5G, but slower than its lightning fast (but hard to find) 5G+.
AT&T says it’s completing the first successful C-band field test call. The carrier hopes to quickly deploy C-band spectrum when the first 40 MHz is made available to them later this year.
“Sports fans love watching the game, as well as the experiences surrounding it. AT&T 5G+ is advancing the fan experience by enabling enhancements that help make the games and their favorite players come alive. And when it comes to entertainment, our 5G network will allow viewers to be immersed like never before. Just like the thrill of a last second victory, bringing to life experiences that matter to our customers is an incredible feeling – that’s the power of advanced networks enabling advanced fandom.”
– Mo Katibeh, SVP, AT&T Network Infrastructure and Build
Some of AT&T’s most collaborative and innovative partners include the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys, Miami HEAT and the NBA and the WNBA where we serve as the Official 5G Innovation Partner.
“It’s crucial for us to align with partners who share similar core values. We couldn’t be more in-sync as we are with AT&T. We can’t wait to give HEAT Nation a premiere fan experience through AT&T’s network and technology.”
– Eric Woolworth, President of Business Operations, The HEAT Group
AT&T says it’s giving its customers the full 5G experience now “through our continued network build, dynamic partnerships, drive to innovate and combination of spectrum. We’re providing the coverage, reliability, security and speeds that our customers deserve along with the ability to deliver the experiences and enable the innovation that’s important to them. AT&T’s 5G network is already giving our customers the full experience. And we’re just getting started.”
The true 5G experience can only be realized via 5G services, features and functions which are ONLY available with a 5G SA core network. AT&T, along with almost every other 5G network operator, has deployed 5G NSA which utilizes 4G LTE for everything other than the RAN (3GPP’s 5G NR). In particular, every 5G NSA deployment uses the 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC) which can only deliver 4G services, features and functions.
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AT&T Pushes Software as Differentiator
“We have another muscle to build here, which is how do we begin to work on software to differentiate our products and services in a way that makes our product better than what our competitors can do,” he added.
The ironic and perhaps most confounding issue for AT&T there is that it just sold its network cloud technology to Microsoft, effectively abandoning software and internally developed technology that provided clear potential differentiation from its competitors.
If AT&T wants to be known as a software pioneer, it sure has an odd way of showing it. Wireless networks are moving infrastructure to the cloud, and operators are unlikely to create separation from competitors without internally developed software designed for that burgeoning architecture.
Stankey didn’t disparage the value of the assets recently sold to Microsoft, but broadly described AT&T’s many business sales and related activities as decisions designed to regain focus and invest in segments where AT&T has the best chance to lead.
“I believe we’re in a moment in time that to be effective in markets right now — you can’t be average or OK,” he said. As such, AT&T is investing in what he described as “core infrastructure” and technology that supports the products it cares about moving forward. This involves removing clutter from its catalog of products, resizing the corporate structure of the business, and committing the entire company to develop and sell market-leading products, he explained.
“Where we are operating right now, we’re not perceived from a brand perspective of being the best in all cases,” Stankey said.
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