AT&T purchased Leap Wireless back in 2014, and it looks like that acquisition is helping AT&T from having to deploy out as many small cells to their network in certain areas as they had originally planned to do by the end of 2015. Prior to the acquisition AT&T was to have plans to set up around 40,000 small cells indoors and outdoors in parts of its network by the end of this year, but they no longer apparently need to do so as they have benefited from having the extra technology from the Leap deal. It is still possible that AT&T could deploy the original number of planned small cells, but with no need and their focus shifting towards other areas of their network they may end up deploying a smaller amount.
AT&T’s goals may be changing for the way they expand and improve their network, they state though that they’re still planning on deploying some small cells to specific parts, however they declined to mention exactly how many they have currently deployed or how many more they plan to deploy, stating that “While we originally gave a target for our small cell deployment, with our Leap acquisition in 2014, we withdrew this guidance. The Leap deal gave us additional spectrum and towers that allowed us to pull back on our original target because we added more macro sites, providing us additional capacity to meet the rising traffic demands.”
According to an inside source who had spoke to Fierce Wireless, AT&T at this point in time has gotten about half of the small cells of their original goal out to parts of their network, around 20,000, further suggesting that AT&T’s reasons for pulling back on the initial goal to deploy a total of 40,000 is not only because the Leap acquisition allowed them more spectrum and network capacity, but also because it may end up taking them longer than expected to reach the total number of deployments they originally planned for. Even if AT&T does not end up deploying the amount of small cells they were focused on before, they state that small cells are still continuing to be an important part of their network evolution.