AT&T LTE to Be 'Substantially Complete' by Summer 2014
AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said on the company's second quarter earnings call that AT&T is now at 225 million potential customers covered with 4G LTE. He said that the operator expects to cover "nearly 270 million PoPs and 400 markets" by the end of this year. (See (A 4G LTE Summer Snapshot.)
AT&T will consider its LTE deployment complete when it has covered 300 million potential customers -- the vast majority of the American population -- with the 4G technology. It was originally aiming for that target at the end of 2014. (See AT&T Wants to Cover 250M With 4G LTE in 2013.)
De la Vega says that LTE is important for the operator because it is changing "the cost metrics" of wireless networking. What the operator is finding out is that LTE makes it cheaper to create and deliver megabytes of data over the air than 3G technologies.
"Not all LTE networks are built the same," he boasted on the call.
The mobile boss says that having 90 percent of its cell sites on fiber backhaul and using radioheads at the top of cell towers to get additional signal gain is driving 4G network efficiency.
Certainly LTE is helping drive the operator's data numbers up. Thirty-five percent of its subscriber base now has an LTE-capable smartphone, and it sold 400,000 tablets during the quarter.
AT&T sold 6.8 million smartphones in the quarter, which de la Vega said included "a record number" of Android phones. The operator wouldn't reveal on the call, however, how many iPhones were sold during the quarter.
All this led to wireless data revenue growth of "nearly 20 percent" year-on-year, de la Vega added. Data is now a "nearly $22 billion yearly revenue stream."
AT&T reported $3.8 billion in net income for the quarter on revenue of $32.1 billion, up 1.6 percent year-on-year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had been predicting revenue of around $31.81 billion.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile