AT&T's 4G Capex Gets Dense

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is expecting to see continued heavy spending on wireless in the second half of 2012 as it pushes on with its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) this year.

AT&T CFO John Stephens was questioned about the operator's spending plans for the second half of the year on the operator's second-quarter call Tuesday morning. Specifically, he was asked whether analysts should look to see more capex spending on LTE in the second half of the year.

Stephens said yes, and that AT&T plans to spend around $20 billion on capex this year. "I think it is fair to assume in the first half of the year that close to 60 percent of our capex spend was on wireless," he said, noting that the ratio should be similar for the rest of the year.

The spend indicates how important LTE is to AT&T's plans going forward, Stephens explained. "We are doing a very dense build as we believe that's the best way to give service to our customers."

He noted that AT&T now has the backhaul in place to handle 4G services. "90 percent of our data traffic is now carried on enhanced backhaul."

Ma Bell currently has 47 LTE markets live. The operator now has 270 million potential customers covered with its "4G" network, which largely consists of high-speed data access-plus (HSPA+) along with the LTE markets.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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