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AT&T (T) Invests in West Virginia Networks to Extend Reach

Zacks Equity Research

AT&T Inc. T recently announced that it invested more than $150 million in its West Virginia wireless and wired networks during 2016-2018, in a bid to fortify its market dominance. Through these planned investments, the telecom giant aims to enhance reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for residents and businesses.

The wireless service provider has also improved critical services that support Public Safety and first responders using the FirstNet communications platform. This platform is built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority — an independent agency within the federal government.

AT&T is currently spending millions of dollars for small cell deployment in order to improve its wireless network in West Virginia. The noble move will likely result in significantly better customer experience in the future.

Over the past five years, AT&T has invested about $145 billion in wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisitions of wireless spectrum and operations. Its fiber network is one of the nation’s largest and connects more Internet of Things devices compared to any other provider in North America.

In 2018, AT&T made 471 wireless network upgrades in West Virginia. Markedly, the company’s wireless network covers more than 99% of Americans and is reportedly the fastest in the nation. Its LTE network covers more than 400 million people in North America.

Moreover, AT&T intends to deploy a standards-based, nationwide mobile 5G network in early 2020. The company’s 5G service involves utilization of millimeter wave spectrum for deployment in dense pockets, while in suburban and rural areas, it plans to deploy 5G on mid- and low-band spectrum holdings.

In concert with technology partners, AT&T has made the world's first wireless 5G data transfer over millimeter wave using production equipment with a mobile form factor device. At present, the company’s 5G Evolution technology is live in more than 200 markets, and is expected to reach more than 400 markets by the end of 2019.

Further, the company is building networks that will enable fiber-based connectivity and LTE to work efficiently in parallel with 5G solutions, making the most of business transformation alongside opportunities to boost revenues and reduce operating expenses.

AT&T has long-term earnings growth expectation of 4.5%. Driven by diligent execution of operational strategies, the stock has rallied 20% compared with the industry’s rise of 10.8% in the year-to-date period.

AT&T currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stock in the industry include U.S. Cellular Corp. USM, Verizon Communications Inc. VZ and CenturyLink, Inc. CTL. While U.S. Cellular sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Verizon and CenturyLink carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

U.S. Cellular surpassed earnings estimate in each of the trailing four quarters, the average positive surprise being 79.3%.

Verizon surpassed earnings estimate in each of the trailing four quarters, the average positive surprise being 3.3%.

CenturyLink has long-term earnings growth expectation of 8.7%.

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