AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega claimed that customers "love" the operator's "4G network" Tuesday morning as he explained continuing massive growth in wireless data usage by Ma Bell subscribers.

AT&T made $6.1 billion in wireless data revenues for the first three months of 2012. That's up nearly 20 percent, or $1 billion, from the same period last year. (See Data Drives AT&T's $3.6B Q1 Profit.)

"Mobile data is a $24 billion annualized revenue stream for us," de la Vega said on AT&T's earnings call this morning.

With more than 41 million smartphones now on AT&T's network, the wireless boss doesn't expect this trend to change. "I think we’re on the verge of a tipping point with the mobile Internet," de la Vega opined.

"From here on out you can except to see more and more people access the Internet on their mobile devices, which speaks to our strategy of building a great LTE network on top of our HSPA network and rolling out terrific new LTE devices," he said.

In fact, de la Vega, enthusiastically talked up AT&T's so-called "blended 4G" approach, with the carrier building out its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network along with a 21Mbit/s high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) network. AT&T markets both of these services as "4G."

"We now cover 260 million pops with our 4G network," said de la Vega. He claims it is the largest 4G footprint in the U.S.

That footprint, however, is mainly still the HSPA network, which had previously been called a 3G network. AT&T has 35 LTE markets up and expects that to double by the end of the year. Ma Bell expects to cover 150 million people in the U.S. with LTE by the end of the year. (See Mapping LTE: AT&T & Verizon's 4G Footprints.)

Nonetheless, de la Vega contends that customers appreciate the ease and speed of AT&T's blended approach with LTE and HSPA+. "Customers know [that it's blended], and they love our 4G network," he claimed.

If you need a refresher on what we at Light Reading Mobile mean when we say "4G," click here.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:35:21 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

I would beg to differ - I dont think most consumers know the difference between HSPA+ and LTE. Most other wireless operators agree too.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:35:21 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

In that case, they won't see a reason to upgrade to LTE, since they're already on "4G." 

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:35:21 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

I think he may have been saying that customers understand they get a "4G" experience across much of AT&T's network.


joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:35:20 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

Well I certainly wouldn't be vastly concerned about to LTE unless I knew it had LTE in my city. But hell, people still bought the iPad and seemingly more because it was the new thing rather than anything else.

4mTx 12/5/2012 | 5:35:19 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

What is this guy smoking? About a month ago I upgrade the firmware on my ATT iPhone 4S. The symbol on top magically transforms from 3G to 4G. The reality is in the South Bay Area the ATT service as slow as ever. With 4 bars and 4G symbol it takes 20-30 sec to load the Light Reading page or CNN or whatever during the day. I certianly don't love their 4G network!

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:35:18 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

Just tried it on a T-Mobile HSPA+ phone in NYC (same underlying tech as what AT&T is also calling 4G). Light Reading Mobile took 10 seconds to load.

Flook 12/5/2012 | 5:35:17 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

No way, Mr. de la Vega is now the money guru--but still think he should raise the data caps

tom.kneeland 12/5/2012 | 5:35:09 PM
re: AT&T: Customers 'Love Our 4G Network'

Maybe now that they have 20% higher profits att might consider investing in the core infrastructure that makes this stuff work. The "Network" side of the house continues to struggle with substandard funding to build the fiber infrastructure and last mile to the towers to provide that "great" customer experience. Gotta love the classic att mentality, they sunk one ship before they were brought back into the family. Maybe there's another Titanic on the horizon.

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