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AT&T Ups the Ante in 5G Race, Service Reaches to 19 Cities

Zacks Equity Research

AT&T Inc. T, in an attempt to stay ahead of competition, recently announced that it has introduced mobile 5G service in certain areas of seven more cities, namely, Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose.

As part of the company’s commitment to deploy 5G in multiple U.S. cities in the upcoming days, this latest move increases the tally to 19 at present where AT&T plans to offer mobile 5G service to businesses and consumers at large. The telco giant had previously launched its mobile 5G service in parts of Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, San Antonio, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh and Waco.

In order to have a seamless transition among Wi-Fi, LTE and 5G services, AT&T intends to deploy a standards-based, nationwide mobile 5G network in early 2020. Markedly, the company’s 5G service involves utilization of millimeter wave spectrum for deployment in dense pockets, while in suburban and rural areas, it intends to deploy 5G on mid- and low-band spectrum holdings.

In partnership with key technology suppliers, AT&T has made the world's first wireless 5G data transfer over millimeter wave using standards-based, production equipment with a mobile form factor device. Further, the company’s 5G Evolution technology is now live in more than 200 markets, and is expected to reach more than 400 markets by the year-end.

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

In 2019, AT&T intends to offer at least three 5G mobile devices. The company is on track to make its Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone available this spring. Driven by diligent execution of operational objectives, shares of AT&T have recorded an average return of 2.9% compared with the industry’s rise of 0.9% in the past three months.


 

AT&T expects to continue its growth momentum in 2019 as it remains poised to benefit from the impending 5G boom and extended LTE coverage, while aiming to reduce its huge debt burden. As of Dec 31, 2018, AT&T had $5,204 million in cash and equivalents with $166,250 million of long-term debt. This apart, the company remains committed to managing its debt portfolio and is well on track to achieve its target of 2.5x debt-to-EBITDA range by 2019 end.

AT&T is also set to benefit from solid momentum in its wireless business, including the future of connectivity. It believes that as the 5G ecosystem evolves, customers can experience significant improvements in coverage, speed and devices.

Currently, AT&T has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A few better-ranked stocks in the broader industry are T-Mobile US, Inc. TMUS, CenturyLink, Inc. CTL and Juniper Networks, Inc. JNPR, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

T-Mobile has long-term earnings growth expectation of 6%.

CenturyLink has long-term earnings growth expectation of 12.7%.

Juniper has long-term earnings growth expectation of 7.1%.

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