AT&T said it is planning to deploy public safety LTE service on 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum quicker than it anticipated, with approximately one-third of the projected buildout to be completed by the end of next March or earlier, according to AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens.
During an interview by Colby Synesael of Cowen and Company at the company’s 46th Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Stephens said, “We will touch 10,000-plus towers by the end of the year. We have metrics that are part of the public record with regard to FirstNet with regard to hitting 31% of the overall build by the end of the first quarter of next year.”
”I would expect we would not only hit that but beat that. Our network guys are focused like a laser on this and their limits are on what they can do efficiently, not necessarily just meeting a goal of the FirstNet authority. We would much rather get it done quicker. It makes sense as long as we can do it efficiently,” Stephens said.
Three spectrum bands up with one tower climb
In building out the network, Stephens said that AT&T was going to go to a cell site and take the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum “and we’re going to put it on our client network. And we are going to put our AWS 3 [spectrum] that we bought in the last auction that isn’t fully in service, and we are going to take the WCS that we’ve owned for some years and put it in service.”
“So, we are going to get three bands of spectrum up, with one so-to-speak tower client, and it is going to be really, really efficient, especially when the government is paying you for their people through the FirstNet reimbursement program. So, this’ll get great coverage, great depth,” Stephens said.
Stephens presented his one-climb-plan last August at Oppenheimer’s 20th Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference.