AT&T CEO says 5G to be priced like home internet. Source: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

AT&T CEO says 5G to be priced like home internet. Source: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

AT&T CEO provides interesting insights into the roll out of 5G

EVERYONE is waiting for 5G — and aside from pockets in Southeast Asia, the only major telecommunications player that is rolling out the technology at scale is AT&T.

In its recent earnings call, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson highlighted that the company’s 5G service is now live in 19 cities and that the company believes it is taking the right steps to roll out the service nationwide next year.

“We’re the only carrier to offer 5G service to businesses and consumers and we’re well ahead of our competition here,” said AT&T CEO.

Given the quick progress the company is making, the telecom giant is already thinking of use cases and actively engaging with businesses to bring them to life.

“Our plans for 5G are going quite well. We — as we mentioned earlier — we don’t expect that revenue to come until next year and the year after, but we’re working on a number of things, whether it’s in the hospital, in coordinating medical centers, whether it’s in the factories, whether it’s doing a whole host of automated, if you will, campuses for our big customers,” revealed AT&T Senior Exec VP and CFO John Joseph Stephens.

“We’re seeing lots of really good progress for that. But from a revenue perspective for a company of our size, we’re still — we’re very optimistic. We’re leading in 5G. But we’ll see those revenue impacts growing over next year into the 2021 timeframe,” said Stephens.

Some of the use cases that AT&T is talking about have previously been highlighted on Tech Wire Asia:

While AT&T caters to the US, the fact is that its an interesting example to businesses, regulators, and telecom companies across the world — and everyone is watching very closely.

However, its interesting to note that while most analysts talk about 5G in the most futuristic sense, AT&T really humanizes the technology when it talks about the trajectory of adoption in the US.

“I will be very surprised if, as we move into wireless, the pricing regime in wireless doesn’t look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line,” said AT&T CEO in response to Citigroup Telecom Anayst Michael Rollins’ question about rolling out 5G.

CEO Stephenson went on to explain that right now, from a 5G standpoint, the company is seeing adoption rise exclusively among businesses.

“It’s serving as a LAN replacement product. And we’re having really impressive demand, where we turn up the 5G service from businesses basically saying, ‘We want to put a router in,’ and it becomes their LAN replacement.”

According to Stephenson, businesses are now beginning to think about equipment, be it a handset, a tablet, or a laptop that has 5G modems within them, which that will happen starting this year and really pick up over the next year, then that truly does become a LAN replacement.

“You don’t even need the router at that stage. And so the idea that just like business customers pay more for more speed in a fixed line environment, we expect that there’s going to be demand and that there will be price differentiation for speed as you move into a 5G environment,” explained Stephenson.

AT&T’s earnings call provided quite a few insights into what the roll-out of 5G will look like, and although the technology is only starting to take a hold of the market in the APAC, it seems like businesses have exciting things to look forward to.