Randall Stephenson Says Public Safety Network Build is Near Completion

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AT&T® is 6 months ahead of the contracted deployment schedule for 700-megahertz Band 14 spectrum that is licensed to FirstNet®, and the public safety program will result in extending its network capacity by 2019 and bracing the telecom company for a smooth transition to 5G, as per AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson.

The Dallas-based telecommunications company “made a full-court press” in order to get the contract to both build as well as maintain the countrywide public safety network, and motives for pursuing the project are now coming to fruition, Stephenson said at the “UBS Global Media and Communications Conference.”

“First and foremost, … we have a very low share of that [first-responder] market. The ability to be able to build a nationwide first-responder network and pursue that market opportunity was really, really important,” Stephenson said. “The second is, it required us to build out a nationwide first-responder network, which meant we were going to have to go climb every cell tower in the United States to deploy this network … So, we have completed one-third of the network build as of last quarter—one-third of the way through. We’re there six months earlier than what the contract requires with the government to do.”

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He pointed out that thousands of public safety agencies, which represent 250,000 users, have subscribed to AT&T® FirstNet’s system, but advantages to the Telco extend beyond those metrics. While the crews of the best internet provider deploy equipment at cell towers required to support operations on twenty megahertz of Band 14 spectrum, gear that allows it to give services on 20 MHz of AWS-3 and WCS spectrums have also been installed. The AT&T® CEO reiterated strategic advantages of this particular approach and said it expects to start realizing from the effort “spectrum dividend” in 2019.

“While we’re climbing every cell tower to deploy FirstNet®, … we’re turning up all of not only the FirstNet® spectrum that we got, but all of this other spectrum that we’ve acquired over the last few years,” Stephenson said. “By the time we get to end of 2019, we will have increased the capacity on AT&T’s network by 50% … I always have to pause and think about this. The entire AT&T® wireless network capacity is going to increase over the next 14 months by 50%. I mean, that’s huge.”

Besides, the AT&T® said that the deployment work comprises the setting up of antennas, which lay the foundation for the transition to 5G services.

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