AT&T’s network hasn’t run out of room to run just yet.
AT&T CFO John Stephens on Tuesday said the carrier’s 40 MHz swath of virtually unused spectrum gives it a “unique advantage” in rising to meet growing data demand.
According to Stephens, AT&T holds around 140 MHz of low- and medium-band spectrum but is currently only using about 100 MHz of that to carry all of its network traffic. In addition to having 40 MHz of open spectrum to play with, Stephens said AT&T is also planning to refarm for 4G LTE and 5G services some of the 100 MHz that is today being used for legacy 2G and 3G technologies.
“If you look at that 100 MHz, some of it’s dedicated to 2G, which will be able to be repurposed next year as we move off the 2G services,” Stephens said. “And a large part of it is dedicated to 3G, which over time will also be able to be upgraded to 4G LTE or 5G.”
“So what we have is we have a large block of spectrum that we’re ready to put into service over the next few years that will dramatically improve our capacity, because it will all be LTE, or at some 5G, which is much greater than the average capacity of our spectrum today,” he continued.
Stephens’ comments come as operators increasingly look to address a massive surge in data traffic on their networks.
According to a June report from Ericsson, monthly average data usage in North America is expected to skyrocket from 5 GB per month in 2015 to 22 GB per month by 2021.
Ericsson said much of the growth will be driven by video, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 55 percent over the next five years and account for nearly 70 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2021.
Stephens’ remarks echo those from Sprint executives, who have long touted the carrier’s 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings in major markets across the country as a key factor in its ability to grow its network and capacity.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)