AT&T remains a fiber-first broadband broadband network provider. The carrier’s CFO Pascal Desroches told investors that the most likely instance for AT&T to use FWA (fixed wireless access) would be in rural areas where deploying fiber could prove too costly.
“We think in certain instances FWA makes sense,” Desroches said during an interview at this week’s Bank of America Media, Communications, and Entertainment Conference, according to a transcript. “If you’re in a rural area where it does make – where the economics don’t pan out for fiber, fixed wireless will be an interesting solution.”
AT&T’s transition end game is predicated on the carrier’s belief that fiber is a better long-term solution for customers and its operations. Desroches explained that FWA extracts a “very expensive” toll on the carrier’s mobile operations.
“Long term, we don’t believe it will be good enough,” Desroches said of FWA. “And that’s why we think it is really important to start to place our bets now with fiber because by the time fiber becomes the only acceptable solution, it will be too late to start to build out because of the long lead times.”
Editor’s Note: This is what investors are missing about AT&T – it’s growing fiber footprint (#1 in the U.S.) which is probably the biggest growth area in all of telecom!!!
“With connectivity increasing at what we estimate will be a fivefold increase between 2021 and 2025, fiber will be the solution of choice. And given the long lead times, the long payback periods, if you decide you want to do fiber 4 to 5 years from now, it’s too late. And this is why we think we are building a strategy for long-term sustainable earnings with the best possible technology.”
To support that need, AT&T recently signed a long-term deal with fiber builder Corning, which is using that deal as the basis to build a new cable manufacturing facility in Gilbert, Arizona. AT&T also formed a “Fiber Optic Training Program” with Corning targeted at training 50,000 people to design, install, and maintain fiber networks.
“This investment is a significant step forward for our country and building world-class broadband networks that will help narrow the nation’s digital divide,” AT&T CEO John Stankey noted in a statement tied to the Corning deal. “This new facility will provide additional optical cable capacity to meet the record demand the industry is seeing for fast, reliable connectivity.”
“The market demand remains really healthy. We’re continuing to see good demand for subscriber — for new subscribers coming into the service. And also, look, our churn levels are at really low levels. You look at all that together, we have a mobility business now that we expect service revenues to grow 4.5% to 5%. And we expect profitability to accelerate in the back half of the year. So all indications are green and that we are performing really well.”
“We’re going to be competitive. For years, AT&T was not competitive, and we’re going to be competitive, and we’re capitalists. At the end of the day, if there are opportunities to grow subscribers in a more efficient way, we’re going to seize those. But at the same time, we’re no longer going to be the share donor to the industry.”
“We have relationships with virtually over 90% of the Fortune 1000. And it’s a core competency that we have, and it’s one that has served us well. But it is very much in transition, and we’re — what we have to do is to grow our small, mid-business connectivity solutions.”
“There will be a very attractive market for 5G-enabled IoT solutions. There is — it will come. It is nascent today. It will come and the relationships that we have among the Fortune 1000 is critical to — is critical in serving — in helping exploit that opportunity. And again, our wireless relationships. The big part of the growth in wireless is also the ability to surgically attack our enterprise base and partner with different organizations to really drive increased subscriber adoption.”