With big 5G plans, AT&T needs towers to enhance its network
AT&T and American Tower Corporation’s new, long-term agreement aims to streamline wireless network deployments on American Tower’s U.S. sites to enhance AT&T’s deployment of 5G and other network upgrades including FirstNet, an LTE network that prioritizes first responder users.
“This comprehensive agreement is expected to drive mutual value and growth through a simplified leasing process designed to drive efficiency and flexibility improvements directly benefitting our speed in deploying the latest technologies,” explained JR Wilson, vice president of Tower Strategy and Roaming, AT&T. “This is essential for executing on both our 5G and FirstNet network builds. It ultimately helps us better serve our customers and first responders nationwide.”
The new agreement will allow AT&T’s to better provide its customers, including FirstNet public safety subscribers, with better speeds, reliability and overall performance. AT&T currently has more than 160 million wireless subscribers and as it continues to commit to 5G, the carrier will need to focus on improving coverage and capacity to accommodate the inevitable influx of mobile data usage. Currently, AT&T has 5G available in select areas of 21 cities from Los Angeles to New York City with plans to expand to more by the end of 2019.
AT&T’s FirstNet and 5G strategies are highly intertwined. As the carrier puts 700 MHz FirstNet spectrum into service, it’s using those truck rolls and tower climbs to also install new radio equipment that can support the 5G New Radio standard with a software update.
AT&T also hopes the agreement will allow the carrier to better cover underserved rural areas.
American Tower has about 40,000 macro sites in the U.S., and in July stated that it expects to add about 10,000 towers in total to its portfolio in 2019. Commenting on the agreement with AT&T, Steve Vondran, president, U.S. Tower Division, American Tower Corporation said it will be “an extended [and]mutually rewarding strategic relationship.”