The move to 5G will be nothing more than a software update for AT&T once its network is fully upgraded to leverage FirstNet's 700MHz spectrum, Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said at an investor event earlier today. After launching a dedicated network core for its first-responder solution in late March, AT&T turned its focus on implementing it into its infrastructure, tasking technicians with climbing every single one of its towers across the country, according to the industry veteran. AT&T is also using that opportunity to make its existing cellular towers compliant with the latest 5G standard in order to maintain buildout efficiency.
AT&T is estimating half of its FirstNet deployment efforts will "probably" be completed by 2019, according to its Chief Financial Officer John Stephens. While speaking at the same event, the executive said AT&T is committing to both wireless and wireline upgrades but sees the former as a priority. By opting for such a utilitarian approach, the Dallas, Texas-based mobile service provider is looking to spread out its capital expenditures related to 5G and not take as significant of a financial hit when it comes time to intensify deployment efforts as some other wireless carriers might, the CFO indicated.
AT&T will already have an operational FirstNet solution in some dozen U.S. cities by the end of the year. Following the acquisition of Time Warner and 5G investments, AT&T is planning on decreasing its corporate debt, its management disclosed. The firm's long-term strategy consists of a combination of next-generation connectivity solutions and what's effectively a media empire created through the purchase of one of the largest names in Hollywood that the telecom giant opted to rebrand into WarnerMedia immediately following the tie-up. The fifth generation of mobile networks is predicted to spur economic growth by creating jobs related to entirely new technologies such as self-driving cars, remote surgery, and high-resolution streaming. All four national carriers in the U.S. previously promised to start offering countrywide coverage by 2020.