AT&T budgets up to $25 billion in capital expenditures in fiscal 2018. That’s up from nearly $21 billion in 2017.
AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson credited the benefits of tax reform, FirstNet and 5G for the increased spending. Tax reform reduced the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. “Our public policymakers pulled the greatest lever they had available to them to stimulate capital investment, job creation, and wage growth,” Stephenson told analysts during the company’s earnings call last week. “That lever has given U.S. companies a competitive tax system, one that levels the playing field with the rest of the world.”
The carrier previously announced bonuses for more than 200,000 front-line employees for a total of about $1 billion. It also announced increased spending in other areas.
“We plan to deploy 40 megahertz of fallow spectrum that we’ve accumulated over the last four years along with the spectrum from FirstNet. And we’ll also be deploying the millimeter wave spectrum from our FiberTower purchase and this is going to give us a quantum leap in both capacity and performance,” he said, according to a Seeking Alpha. Clearly AT&T has much to do on its network in 2018 and beyond.
AT&T has said it expects to be the first U.S. company to launch mobile 5G service by year-end and its fixed 5G trials are going well, he said. With AT&T’s settlement with the FCC over FiberTower’s millimeter wave spectrum licenses, Stephenson predicted the carrier will get an average of over 350 megahertz of spectrum nationwide from the acquisition.
There’s not going to be that many handsets available. We’ll be pushing the vendors to make that happen faster,” he explained. The new frequencies do complicate the consumer handset piece with each phone needing to be able to work on more frequency bands than ever before.
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