AT&T taking ‘one-touch, one-tower’ approach to FirstNet build
In providing a second quarter update on the carrier’s financial performance, AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan provided an update on the FirstNet deployment. AT&T is investing more than $40 billion in construction of a nationwide LTE network prioritized for use by first responders and other public safety users.
Overseen by the First Responders Network Authority, Donovan said the company plans to add FirstNet support to between 12,000 and 15,000 sites by the end of the year. “Our FirstNet network build is accelerating…and we’re ahead of our contractual commitment. And don’t forget: When we’re putting in equipment for FirstNet, we’re also deploying our AWS and WCS spectrum utilizing the one-touch, one-tower approach.”
Donovan also noted how the first responders network also creates the opportunity for AT&T to add new users from that market segment. He said more than 1,500 public safety agencies in 52 states and territories have joined the program “nearly doubling the network’s adoption since April.”
As it works toward turning up a mobile 5G service based on the 3GPP’s non-standalone 5G New Radio (NR) standard, Donovan said trials are “going well and we’re on track” to offer a commercial service using millimeter wave spectrum in 12 markets by the end of the year. While early 5G deployments will have limited coverage reach, AT&T is also steadily building out what it calls 5G Evolution, essentially a gigabit LTE service with peak theoretical speeds in the 400 Mbps range.
Donovan said 5G Evolution is currently available in more than 140 markets covering nearly 100 million people. The carrier plans to expanding the gigabit LTE offering to more than 400 markets by the end of the year.
For the wireless business, Donovan reported 46,000 postpaid phone adds and 356,000 net phone adds in the prepaid segment. A total of 3 million new devices hit the network in the quarter, he said.