AT&T COO John Stankey on 5G network coverage and ARPU

AT&T COO John Stankey has revealed that its 5G network covers 50 million people today and there will be nationwide 5G coverage in the second quarter of 2020.
AT&T COO John StankeyAT&T’s capital expenditures were $19.6 billion in 2019. The annual Capex of AT&T will not be increased this year despite its investment in 5G networks.

“Leading in 5G is critical for AT&T and we’re not slowing down. We are more than 75 percent complete on FirstNet build. We’re continuing to deploy fiber,” John Stankey said during the recent analyst call.

AT&T conducted its own spot test in December to see how existing nationwide 5G evolution network compared to the 5G network one of competitors rolled out last month.

AT&T’s 5G network had faster speeds and lower latency on average in three out of the four test cities. “The point is strong spectrum position gives us a leg up and allows us to execute a different 5G deployment strategy than our competitors,”

AT&T has the low and mid-band spectrum to deploy 5G nationwide. AT&T covers 50 million people and expect to be nationwide in the second quarter, John Stankey said.

AT&T also have the millimeter wave spectrum to deploy 5G+ and its gigabit speeds and super low latency to more densely populated cities. AT&T’s 5G is available in 35 cities today and it is adding more this year.

“We also expect a higher adoption of our unlimited plans. We’re at a little more than 50 percent penetration today, but we expect the 5G device upgrade cycle will bring into our stores lots of customers not on unlimited plans today,” John Stankey said.

AT&T has spent a combined $134 billion on DirecTV and Time Warner to transform itself into a media company, but is struggling to stem the loss of valuable satellite subscribers as audiences cut the cord and switch to streaming services.

Revenue from the entertainment segment, which includes DirecTV, fell 6.1 percent from the previous year to $11.23 billion.

AT&T said it lost 945,000 premium TV subscribers during the fourth quarter, including from DirecTV, and a smaller number of cable TV subscribers.

AT&T plans to launch its own streaming platform HBO Max in May to counter the loss of customers to streaming platforms like Netflix and’s Prime.

The company said it added 229,000 new phone customers in the quarter.

AT&T reaffirmed its 2020 guidance with plans to invest between $1.5 billion and $2 billion on streaming content in 2020, and an additional $1 billion in 2021 and 2022.

Total operating revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 31 fell to $46.82 billion from $47.99 billion a year earlier. The WarnerMedia segment, which includes premium TV channel HBO, reported revenue of $8.92 billion.

The company said the fall in revenue from WarnerMedia was because it stopped licensing content, for example popular sitcom “Friends,” to other streaming services like Netflix as the launch of HBO Max nears.