Mobile services

AT&T Covers 380M People With LTE in Q2

AT&T is pumping up its 4G LTE network further this year, even as it moves subscribers off its old 2G network, and anticipates the arrival of 5G in the near-ish future.

On its second-quarter earnings call Thursday afternoon, CFO John Stephens said that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) now covers 380 million people across North America with 4G LTE. This includes nearly 65 million people in Mexico, where the operator now has nearly 10 million subscribers on this new network, Stephens said (See AT&T Sunsetting 2G, Expanding Mexico LTE.)

AT&T has already deployed LTE across the US. Now it is planning to aggregate additional LTE bands into its network to bump up speed and capacity. "This year we expect to add 25,000 LTE carriers, compared to 18,000 last year," Stephens said.

For the uninitiated, "carriers" is operator-speak for additional radio channels in different spectrum bands that can be grouped together to boost LTE performance.

Stephens adds that AT&T has "40MHz of relatively untapped spectrum" in the AWS-3 and WCS bands to use and is trying to add more bandwidth. "While we're not going to elaborate, AT&T has applied to be a participant in the broadcast auction and we have a bid in the ongoing FirstNet process," Stephens says. (See Next Phase of FCC 600MHz Auction Starts August 16 and Public Safety's Long-Term Evolution.)

The operator is anticipating that its plan to switch off its 2G network by the end of the year: This will put additional churn pressure on AT&T, the CFO says. "We'll manage through the pressure, Stephens says.

For all the latest news on 5G, visit the dedicated 5G site here on Light Reading.

AT&T did not have much additional information on its 5G plans but says that it is rolling with tests, standards and specifications. "When 5G is ready to roll we will be ready as well," Stephens noted.

AT&T added 2.1 million net mobile connections across North America (including Mexico) for the quarter: 1.4 million of those were in the US, of which 1.2 million were connected devices. AT&T's US mobile subscriber base grew by 200,000 in the quarter to reach 77.6 million.

For video services it was a game of two halves for AT&T: The recently acquired DirecTV service added 342,000 net subscribers for the spring quarter. But the company's total video subs still dipped by 49,000, because of a net loss of 391,000 U-verse TV subs. AT&T ended the quarter with 25.3 million video subscribers.

AT&T's moderate overall loss was still overshadowed by Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)'s loss of 291,000 subscribers, as reported Thursday. (See Is Dish Going Down the Drain?)

AT&T's overall revenues were $40.5 billion, up 22% year-on-year, or $0.72 a share. Net income rose to $3.41 billion in the second quarter compared $3.08 billion, in the same quarter a year ago. The operator met analyst expectations for EPS but slightly missed revenue expectations.

AT&T was trading down 0.19% -- or $0.44 -- at $42.52 after the market close.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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