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AT&T CEO said in a fourth-quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday that he expects 5G to become a suitable replacement for fixed broadband within three to five years.
"In three to five years," CEO Randall Stephenson said that 5G will be a "true alternative opportunity" for fixed broadband services, especially as AT&T continues to deploy high-band millimeter-wave spectrum in the United States.
Stephenson said that with its 5G deployment from 2019 to 2020, AT&T plans to become the first operator in the world to launch mobile 5G. In December 2018, AT&T launched a 3GPP-based mobile 5G NR service that was accessed via a device called "puck." The operator plans to launch another 7 millimeter wave market this year.
AT&T executives point out that because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in a "quiet period," they can't talk about 5G auctions at 28GHz or 24GHz.
At the same time, AT&T is deploying "5G-ready" low-band radio as part of its national network of "FirstNet" first responders, which currently has a deployment rate of approximately 40%. The low-band 5G network will be launched in 2019 and will be promoted nationwide in 2020. Stephenson pointed out that the first Samsung smartphone supporting AT&T millimeter wave and low frequency 5G spectrum will be available in the second half of this year.
AT&T's "mobile-first" 5G deployment strategy is in stark contrast to Verizon's early "5G Home" fixed wireless service. However, both operators are planning to launch a smartphone that supports mobile 5G this year.
In fact, the three largest mobile operators in the United States are planning 5G fixed wireless or home broadband products for consumers or corporate customers. AT&T will provide LTE-A (as a 5G transition) for enterprise customers, while T-Mobile USA and Sprint, which are fitting and offering, offer 5G-based home broadband services.