AT&T’s CFO promises 5G will grow wireless revenues

AT&T's CFO John Stephens discussed the carrier's launch of 5G. (AT&T)

AT&T’s CFO said that the carrier’s move to 5G network technology will create opportunities for the company to generate new revenues. The statements are noteworthy considering AT&T has raised its spending on its network dramatically this year as it works to switch on new spectrum bands and launch roughly a dozen 5G markets before the end of 2018.

"As we continue to do 5G Evolution, and then lead in 5G, we believe we will see additional opportunities for growth and revenue streams that will only improve our situation,” said AT&T’s CFO John Stephens this morning during an appearance at an investor relations event. “Specifically, things like augmented reality, virtual reality, the internet of things, the ability to continue to service our business customers and provide them new services, whether it's playing in the healthcare industries and helping deliver healthcare services or a whole host of other entertainment services.”

AT&T has branded hundreds of markets as “5G Evolution;” the carrier argues such markets contain network technologies like carrier aggregation that pave the way for a full 5G launch. And AT&T has said that it will deploy mobile 5G services later this year in a dozen markets including Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas.

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“Our evolution of 5G and then full 5G services throughout this year and next year will really provide us the opportunity to continue to grow the wireless business,” Stephens said.

AT&T is spending up to $25 billion this year on its network, up from around $21.6 billion last year, partly in an effort to deploy FirstNet’s 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum as well as equipment to support 5G. Stephens said that build-out will position AT&T to begin offering 5G services.

And Stephens’ pledge that 5G will open new revenue streams is obviously key for not only AT&T but the wider wireless industry, as operators around the globe begin to spend billions of dollars to upgrade their networks to support 5G services. Such investments promise to allow operators to offer faster speeds and newer services, but carriers must also ensure that they can charge customers extra for those offerings.

Although Stephens said that 5G will open new revenue streams for AT&T, he did not provide any further specifics about exactly what the operator might charge for 5G services, whether for commercial or business users.