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AT&T Wants to Cover 250M With 4G LTE in 2013

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

AT&T Inc. is upping its LTE build target for 2013, promising that 250 million potential customers will be covered by the 4G technology by the end of the year. "We expect to take our LTE build to 250 million PoPs by the end of 2013," said CEO Randall Stephenson on the company's fourth quarter earnings call Thursday. "We're at about 174 million now, we're ahead of where we said we would be." AT&T has previously said that -- under its Project VIP plan that it will cover the vast majority of the American population, 300 million people, with the 4G technology by the end of the year. The move makes good sense for AT&T, which is playing catch-up with Verizon Wireless on deploying the 4G technology. The operator also activated 8.6 million iPhones in the fourth quarter. So catering to that growing LTE-capable iPhone 5 customer base also makes good sense. Questioned by analysts, the CEO was a bit more opaque on the timing for U-Verse build-outs. AT&T has previously said that its wired IP broadband network will expand to 75 percent of residential customer locations in its 22-state wireline service area by the end of 2015. "You can think about it as a kind of radical build schedule going forward," offered Stephenson, while not actually disclosing any targets. AT&T added 192,000 subscribers for the U-verse TV service, while the High Speed Internet offering plucked 609,000 new users, bringing its total subscribers to 7.7 million. Overall, AT&T posted loss of $3.9 billion, or $0.68 a share, compared with a loss of $6.7 billion, or $1.12 a share, in the same quarter a year ago thanks largely to pension costs. Excluding these pension issues and the impact of Superstorm Sandy, AT&T had adjusted earnings of $0.44 a share. Analysts surveyed by Reuters predicted earnings of $0.45 per share.

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