AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens defended the company's increased commitments to 5G while speaking at an investor event earlier today. While no high-profile analyst firm ever questioned whether 5G is the way to move forward for the wireless industry, the aggressive manner in which AT&T has been doing so is understood to have raised some eyebrows in terms of sustainability concerns, especially as the company took on significant leverage by completing the Time Warner purchase valued at $85.6 billion earlier this summer.
Mr. Stephens pointed to virtual and augmented reality, Internet of Things, and a range of other services as potential major revenue growth generators for AT&T, noting that the firm wouldn't be able to have a bullish outlook on its long-term prospects without aggressive bets in the 5G space. The fifth generation of mobile networks is the first wireless technology upgrade that's been designed with use cases in mind and should hence also be the most impactful one to date, allowing for a wide variety of new technologies which will consequently create new businesses, jobs, and contribute to global economic growth. AT&T and other telecom giants in the country and abroad are also hoping that 5G will allow for deeper collaborations with their enterprise clients that may see them transition to the role of partners instead of just providers of connectivity services.
Taking maximum advantage of the incoming changes in the industry is best done through aggressive investments, which is what AT&T is now doing, Mr. Stephens suggested, predicting significant revenue growth in the wireless segment due to that approach. AT&T already rebranded a large number of its service areas as "5G Evolution," arguing the technologies it deployed there will pave the way for actual 5G. The company is also adamant it will be the only service provider to deliver truly mobile 5G connectivity by the end of the year, though the scope of that network isn't expected to be significant until the second half of 2020, with AT&T still pursuing the goal of offering 5G service on a national level by 2020.