AT&T invests in and upgrades our network to help bring customers all the benefits they expect. We are building our network for reliability, speed and overall performance to enable tomorrow’s new products and services.
Our advanced network carries more than 242 petabytes of traffic on an average business day. With more consumers and businesses relying on high-speed internet and data-heavy applications, network reliability has become crucial. As technology needs change, our highly reliable, integrated network is always there. Security is also central to everything we do. To learn more, visit our Network & Security issue brief.
Data insights have powered AT&T for decades, providing a better experience for our customers. It’s how we manage a global network that connects hundreds of millions of devices, such as smartphones, tablets and even Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions such as smart irrigation sensors and connected shipping pallets.
We currently collect billions of service-assurance measurements across our wired and wireless network every hour, and make adjustments based on those measurements to improve service. We aggregate and analyze this data in real time to derive insights that help manage our network and deliver a better customer experience. To learn about our network management policies, see our Network Practices.
Our customers can access information about network outages in their area for the services to which they subscribe on our Consumer Network Reliability website.
- Network Investment
We continually invest in and enhance our network to drive service improvements for the customers and devices connected to our network. Over the last 5 years (2014–2018), AT&T invested more in the U.S. than any other public company. Our total investment (U.S. and international) during this period, including capital investment and acquisitions of spectrum and wireless operations, was more than $140 billion. 1 1 Includes U.S. and international capital investment and acquisitions of wireless operations and spectrum.
AT&T continues to invest in the latest technologies to deliver reliable and fast internet to urban and rural areas. We have aggressively expanded our fiber footprint over the past few years, both to businesses and consumers. We now market our 100% fiber network to more than 11 million locations nationwide where we are offering our fast, low-latency internet service powered by AT&T Fiber. We plan to reach at least 14 million locations by mid-2019.AT&T Internet provided over AT&T Fiber, our 100% fiber network, offers an ultra-fast, 1-gigabit-per-second-capable connection 2 2 Actual customer speeds may vary. Download speeds are typically up to 940 Mbps due to overhead capacity reserved to deliver the data. across 84 metro areas. Fiber in the AT&T network provides the bandwidth needed to support data-intensive services, such as video, collaboration, cloud services and more, through products such as AT&T Business Fiber, AT&T Switched Ethernet ServiceSM and AT&T Dedicated Internet.Today, we have the largest fiber network within our 21-state home-internet footprint. 3 3 Based on the number of Fiber-to-the-Home households using publicly available data for the top fiber providers in the AT&T footprint. We are also the largest U.S.-based provider of fiber for businesses nationwide. For additional information, check out the AT&T Newsroom. With fiber at the core of our network, we plan to use a combination of fiber and 5G to be one of the country’s largest high-speed internet providers. Ultimately, we plan to reach more than 50 million locations with speeds up to 50 Mbps, with more than half of those locations seeing near-gig speeds.
For the latest information on our deployment and coverage, visit our AT&T Network website at att.com/network.
In 2017, the First Responder Network Authority (Authority) selected AT&T to build and manage FirstNet — the first nationwide communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and public safety community. Through this partnership, AT&T is delivering a dedicated, interoperable platform and ecosystem that will give first responders the technology they need to better communicate and collaborate across agencies and jurisdictions — tribal, local, state and federal. FirstNet is the first nationwide public safety wireless broadband platform dedicated to first responders and those who support them. It is more than a network, including advanced services, applications and purpose-built devices. Whether responding to a crisis or performing a routine task in a congested area, connectivity is key. Purpose-built to first responder specifications and needs, FirstNet provides interoperable communications, enabling information sharing across disciplines and jurisdictions, and improved situational awareness.
In 2017, all 50 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia opted into the FirstNet plan to have AT&T design and build a dedicated communications platform for their respective public safety communities. The Authority and AT&T worked with each state and territory to understand its unique needs and built a state plan with that understanding. In 2018 alone, the AT&T FirstNet team supported nearly 100 emergency and event response efforts via asset deployments and other solutions. This included active shooter situations, tornadoes in the east, search and rescue missions, wildfires across the western states, deployments for the Merrimack Valley gas explosions in Massachusetts, and Hurricanes Florence and Michael. As of early January 2019, more than 5,250 public safety agencies subscribed to FirstNet, including first responders from all 50 states. This represents more than 425,000 connections on the FirstNet platform.
As a part of this collaboration, AT&T will spend approximately $40 billion over the life of the contract to deliver FirstNet. The Authority is providing success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the first 5 years, as well as 20 MHz of high-value wireless network spectrum to support the build of FirstNet. To learn more, visit the FirstNet website at firstnet.com.
- Network Preparedness
At AT&T, we design our network to be resilient so we are prepared, even before disaster strikes. Our network team builds all cell sites — including those in disaster-prone areas — to meet or exceed state structural standards. Regular analysis is conducted to help ensure our cell sites can withstand earthquake loads, wind, ice and other environmental factors. Based on analysis by professional engineers, upgrades or modifications are completed to maintain safe, reliable tower capacity and to meet or exceed all building codes. We also deploy high-capacity battery backup to our cell sites, which allows them to remain in service in the event of a power loss. To prepare our network for natural disasters, we regularly test the batteries located at every site and take steps to ensure fixed generators are fueled on a regular basis.
Through our Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) organization, we are committed to on-the-ground testing. We have conducted 78 full-scale recovery exercises in the field, which are vital to testing our equipment and abilities. In April 2018, NDR conducted a full technology recovery drill in Washington, DC. In addition, NDR’s Special Operations (hazmat) team conducted a joint exercise with Loudoun County (VA) Fire and Rescue's hazmat response team in April 2018. These drills help local and regional first responders understand the role and abilities of our NDR organization, and they maintain the readiness of our teams and equipment.
The AT&T Business Continuity Management Program includes management disciplines, processes and techniques to support our employees and critical business operations in the event of a significant business disruption. AT&T has a team of industry-leading, certified and experienced business continuity experts that ensure key business processes have a documented business continuity strategy, plan and procedures that are updated and exercised on an annual basis. The AT&T Business Continuity Management Program is certified to the international business continuity standard, ISO 22301:2012. It is also aligned with the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) Professional Practices, Business Continuity Institute Good Practice Guidelines, Department of Homeland Security National Incident Management System and ISO 31000. Our alignment with these standards demonstrates our ability to resume business operations and delivery of customer service in the vital hours and days after a disaster. In the event of a disaster or other emergency, we implement procedures to quickly restore network functionality, provide critical resources to impacted employees, field customer inquiries and bring service to the communities in which we operate.
To learn more about our business continuity preparedness, visit AT&T Disaster Preparedness.
- Network Innovation
We’re building a network of the future to address rapidly changing customer needs, so we can deliver new and unique services faster than ever before. Doing things the old way — simply adding equipment to the network as demand requires — is no longer sustainable. We understand the need to build a new type of network that can adapt quickly and support the growing demand and evolving nature of communications and entertainment.
At AT&T, we are reinventing how we operate to more easily manage our services, similar to how they’re provided in cloud data centers. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) shifts control of the network from hardware to software, giving customers more control of their network services. We’ve already converted 65% of our network functionality to SDN and are on our way to a goal of 75% by 2020.
This shift will allow us to collaborate with new players and take advantage of innovations more quickly and efficiently. It will also change how we do business, form relationships with our suppliers and manage software.
Examples of our network innovations for our business customers include:
- Edge-to-Edge Technologies provide near real-time intelligence from every corner of a business. It’s a part of our mission to help business customers evolve their networks from hardware-centric to software-centric, increasing their agility and transforming the way they work. AT&T FlexWare℠ is a platform that simplifies the process of adding network functions by deploying a single universal piece of equipment and choosing virtualized network functions (such as those provided by a router or firewall) based on a particular site’s needs.
- AT&T Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) dynamically routes data traffic across multiple wide area network connections. This allows business customers to expand their current highly secure network with lower cost broadband connections.
- AT&T Switched Ethernet ServiceSM is a self-service networking solution that lets businesses quickly order more ports, add or change services, or scale bandwidth.
There’s much to do before our vision is realized, but we’re building this network of the future to address customer needs and deliver new and unique services to them faster than before. For more information, visit our AT&T Software-Defined Network website.
- Mobility Network Architecture
Our approach to our 4G LTE mobility network architecture includes:
- Putting transmission equipment closer to the antennas on our cell towers to improve network performance, help extend coverage and enhance speed and reliability. Cell towers are connected to the AT&T network via fiber cables — these connections are being enhanced to enable faster wireless connections.
- Placing antennae where they make the most impact through the use of small cells, macro cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS).
- A distributed core to enable low latency and fast speeds. Our network is designed with its core elements distributed across the country. That means data traffic gets on the internet faster, which increases mobile data speeds.
- Connecting individual cell sites to the main AT&T network with high-speed, reliable fiber cables (ethernet backhaul), which provide fast connections. More than 99% of our mobile data traffic moves between cell towers at ultra-high speeds over enhanced backhaul across our wireline network.
Project AirGig is a transformative technology from AT&T Labs that could one day deliver wireless internet speeds well over 1 gigabit per second via millimeter wave (mmWave) signals guided by power lines. Using patented AirGig technology, we could install devices to provide high-speed broadband that can simply be clamped onto existing aerial power cables by trained electrical workers.
AT&T Evolution to 5G
AT&T is leading the evolution to 5G mobile network technology. 5G will be the most robust wireless communication technology deployed to date and will enable faster and more powerful networks. We are the only U.S. carrier to launch a standards-based, mobile 5G network live in parts of a dozen cities in 2018 — Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, San Antonio and Waco. In 2019, we’ll keep our 5G momentum going and plan to introduce mobile 5G in more cities. For more information, visit our consumer 5G website at att.com/5g/consumer.
We are also currently trialing and testing fixed-wireless 5G, including a live trial with business customers in Austin, Texas, and 5G field trials with residential and business customers in Waco, Texas; South Bend, Ind.; and Kalamazoo, Mich. The trials and lab work we’re conducting are helping guide our 5G 3GPP standards contributions, our commercial 5G launches this year, and our future 5G network build. We spent countless hours collecting data and talking to real people who elected to join the trial. Learn more about our 2 years of 5G trials on the AT&T Technology Blog.
Since the acquisition of WarnerMedia in June 2018 and the launch of Xandr in September 2018, we are continuing to integrate operationally and through our CSR reporting. For this reason, information for these 2 affiliates is not included in this brief, except where specifically referenced.
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