|Barrons on : AT&T presentation about 5G Rollout ................................................|
July 16, 2021
The 5G Rollout Is Just Beginning. And AT&T Has to Convince Consumers of the Magic.
By Nicholas Jasinski
AT&T threw a party this past week for 5G. The company is refocusing on its wired and wireless telecom roots, with spinoffs of DirecTV and WarnerMedia in the works. At a New York City loft, bathed in AT&T-blue mood lighting and lo-fi beats, AT&T execs, a Google representative, and actor-turned-tech-investor Ashton Kutcher waxed poetic about the promise of 5G to “untether” gamers from consoles, bring augmented reality to people on the move, and enable telemedicine.
Many of those applications are possible on 4G networks or over Wi-Fi, but 5G promises to make them more mobile and responsive. AT&T and its partners just need to convince consumers. That explains demonstrations of 5G-enabled applications like Stadia (from Alphabet’s Google), a Space Jam AR film experience (from WarnerMedia), download-speed tests, and 5G partnerships with Facebook, Boingo Wireless, and the NBA.
AT&T said its 5G Nationwide network now reaches 250 million Americans, using mostly low-band wireless spectrum, which carries a signal farther than higher-frequency bands; it’s good for covering large areas, but lacks 5G’s full high-speed, low latency promise. And AT&T’s lightning-fast 5G+, which serves parts of 38 cities and some venues, requires dense antenna arrays.
Midband spectrum trades off range and capacity. Telecoms spent $81 billion early this year for midband spectrum licenses ($23 billion from AT&T). The company expects to cover up to 75 million people with so-called C-Band by the end of 2022, with 200 million a year later. Until then, it’s all about the magic.