AT&T Issue Briefs

Our issue briefs provide additional details on topics identified as most important by our stakeholders. View all the issue briefs on the Reporting Library for a comprehensive overview or choose an issue in the drop-down menu.

 


Global Reporting Initiative Standard Disclosures
Network quality & reliability MA; 201-1; 203-1; 203-2


Global Reporting Initiative Standard Disclosures
Network quality & reliability MA; 201-1; 203-1; 203-2


Stakeholder Engagement Topics
Disaster response & relief; Network quality & reliability

Stakeholder Engagement Topics
Disaster response & relief; Network quality & reliability

 

 

Our Position

 

AT&T invests in and upgrades our network to help bring customers the connectivity they expect and need. We build our network for reliability, speed and overall performance to help our customers stay connected and enable tomorrow’s new products and services.


2020 Key Performance Indicators
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Capital Expenditures 
2016$22.4B
2017$21.6B
2018$21.3B
2019$19.6B
2020$15.7B

 

 

Our Action

Our advanced global network carries more than 468 petabytes of traffic on an average business day, up 40% year over year (March 2020 through March 2021). With the global pandemic, consumers and businesses are relying on high-speed internet and data-heavy applications more than ever before.

Network reliability is crucial, and our integrated network provides stability and strength to customers. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve provided reliable connectivity to customers, including first responders, students, teachers, businesses, employees working from home, healthcare workers and others on the front lines. Read more in our connectivity blog.

We collect billions of service-assurance measurements across our wired and wireless networks every hour and make adjustments as needed to improve service. We aggregate and analyze this data in near-real time to derive insights that help manage our network and improve customer experience. To learn about our network management policies, see our Network Practices.

For details on our commitment to consumer privacy and what we do to help ensure the information we collect is both secure and private, visit our Privacy Center and our Network & Data Security issue brief.

Our customers can also access information about network outages in their area for the services to which they subscribe on our Consumer Network Reliability website. 

Network Investment

AT&T continually invests in and enhances our network to drive service improvements for the customers and devices connected to our network. Over the past 5 years (2016–2020), AT&T invested more than $110 billion in our wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisition of wireless spectrum and operations. During this same period, AT&T invested more in the United States than any other public company. 

We invest in the latest technologies to deliver highly reliable and fast internet to urban and rural areas. With fiber at the core of our network, we use a combination of fiber and 5G to be one of the country’s largest high-speed internet providers. Expanding our fiber footprint allows us to offer fast, low-latency internet service to businesses and consumers. Today, our 21-state home-internet footprint reaches more than 90 metro areas, and our business fiber footprint covers nearly 2.5 million U.S. business customer locations. To ensure our customers have the best connectivity solutions to meet their needs – whether they are working from home, engaging in remote learning or staying connected with their family and friends – we’re focused on a best-in-class product experience. Fiber is 20 times faster than standard cable 1 1 Comparison of Internet 1000 wired upload connection speed to Xfinity, Spectrum and Cox 1 Gig service with uploads of 35 Mbps. For more information, go to www.att.com/speed101. and has 99% proven reliability. 2 2 Based on network availability. AT&T Fiber also offers 80% more bandwidth than cable. 3 3 Based on combined upload and download capacity of Internet 1000 vs. Xfinity, Spectrum and Cox 1 Gig service with uploads of 35 Mbps.

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. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AT&T Fiber provided customers with a reliable internet connection as connectivity needs grew. Our network remained stable while download data usage was up 26% and upload data usage was up 62% when comparing November 2019 to November 2020.

We currently market 100% fiber connectivity to more than 14 million locations nationwide. In 2020, we added more than 1 million residential and business fiber locations, and throughout 2021, we plan to expand to 3 million new customer locations. Ultimately, we plan to reach more than 50 million locations with speeds of at least 50 Mbps, with more than half of those locations seeing near-gigabit speeds. As of Q1 2021, we have ultra-fast internet service in parts of more than 90 of the nation’s largest metro areas.

For the latest information on our deployment and coverage, visit our AT&T Network website.

FirstNet

FirstNet – the nationwide communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and public safety community – is the only network built in collaboration with first responders, for first responders. The platform provides first responders with the connectivity they need to access information and make decisions on the job quickly. 

In 2017, through a public-private partnership, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) selected AT&T to build and manage FirstNet. Mandated by Congress as a single, nationwide broadband network, FirstNet brings interoperability for first responders across agencies and jurisdictions and keeps first responders’ lines of communication open with access to a dedicated, high-quality spectrum band and all AT&T LTE commercial spectrum bands. FirstNet’s mission-critical solutions modernize public safety by offering first responders and those that support them a reliable and secure nationwide communications platform. It also includes advanced services – a custom catalog of applications and purpose-built devices. AT&T is held accountable by the FirstNet Authority to meet its contractual obligations.

Today more than 99% of the U.S. population and more than 2.7 million square miles are covered by FirstNet. This coverage means more first responders and the communities they serve – rural, urban and tribal – have gained access to the critical communications capabilities they need. As of February 2021, more than 15,000 agencies and organizations, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, have subscribed to FirstNet. With more than 2 million connections nationwide, adoption of FirstNet increased nearly 67% year over year (February 2020 to February 2021). 

Public safety agencies have access to a nationwide, dedicated fleet of 80+ land-based and airborne portable cell sites, including 3 Flying COWs™ – which are cell sites on drones – and the FirstNet One blimp. During 2020 alone, the FirstNet Response Operations Program fielded more than 750 requests for additional planned and emergency support. The FirstNet App Catalog – which includes reliable solutions built and tested specifically for public safety’s needs – grew to include more than 160 iOS and Android apps. And as healthcare needs grew, the number of medical apps tripled.

The impacts of FirstNet have been tangible and lifesaving. Since bringing the specialized communications platform to life in 2018, first responders have relied on FirstNet in situations such as active shootings, bombings and plane crashes, as well as hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes, mudslides and earthquakes. In 2020, AT&T’s FirstNet teams supported the first COVID-19 quarantine sites. They also provided critical communications during the bombing in Nashville on Christmas Day 2020 and other instances of civil unrest as well as the unprecedented western wildfires and record Atlantic hurricane season. We’ll continue to expand our support in 2021 and beyond, supporting vaccination efforts across the country and responding to unprecedented weather events and other disasters and emergencies whenever they occur.

To learn more, visit the FirstNet website.

Network Preparedness

At AT&T, we design our network to be resilient so that we are prepared to provide essential communications and data connectivity for our customers and communities, even before disaster strikes. Our network team builds all cell sites – including those in disaster-prone areas – to meet or exceed state structural standards.

We conduct regular analysis to help ensure our cell sites can withstand natural disasters and other environmental factors. Based on analyses by professional engineers, upgrades or modifications are completed to maintain safe, reliable tower capacity and to meet or exceed all applicable building codes. We also deploy a high-capacity battery backup or permanent generators 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 any fixed generators are fueled on a regular basis. Our Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT) also helps us visualize climate change risk on our infrastructure and make smarter, climate-informed decisions. We continue to expand CCAT, and upon completion, it will cover the entire contiguous U.S. and include projections for flooding, hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. Read more in our Climate Change issue brief. 

We have invested more than $650 million in our Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) program; its sole purpose is to rapidly restore communications to areas affected by disasters. We are committed to on-the-ground testing and have conducted nearly 80 full-scale NDR recovery exercises in the field, which test the preparedness of our equipment and abilities. 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 to respond on a moment’s notice to recover a failed network office or network element in disaster situations. 

We have an AT&T Business Continuity Management Program which includes management disciplines, processes and techniques to support our employees and critical business operations in the event of a significant business disruption. Our global team of certified and experienced business continuity experts, led by our President of Technology and Operations, works to maintain operations of key business processes by utilizing documented business continuity strategies, plans and procedures that are updated and exercised on an annual basis. Regular reports on our business continuity efforts are shared with the Audit Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors. 

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 deliver 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 return or establish service to the communities where we operate.

To learn more about our business continuity preparedness, visit AT&T Disaster Preparedness.

Software-Defined Networking

At AT&T, we’re building a network to address rapidly changing customer needs and the evolving nature of communications and entertainment. We are focused on driving the development of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), which shifts control of the network from hardware to software, giving customers more control of their network services. 

Our core network is 100% under software-defined control, as are many other areas of our network. This allows us to respond rapidly to any surges in network traffic or other issues, quickly enable capacity enhancements and promptly address any security concerns. 

This shift to SDN allows us to deliver new and unique services faster than ever before, collaborate with new partners and take advantage of innovations efficiently. 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 FlexWareSM 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.

For more information, visit AT&T Software-Defined Network.

Mobility Network Architecture

While AT&T’s 5G coverage is rapidly expanding, we’re continuing to invest in our 4G LTE network to provide our customers with the performance and reliability they expect, no matter where they are. 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 antennas where they make the most impact through the use of small cells, macro cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS).
  • Using 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.
AT&T 5G

Much like 4G introduced the world to the gig economy, we believe mobile 5G will jump-start the next wave of unforeseen innovation. Since becoming the first to make mobile 5G a reality in the U.S., AT&T now offers 2 options for 5G in many markets across the country. We use “5G” to refer to our 5G offering over sub-6 spectrum, with fast speeds over broader distances, and “5G+” to refer to 5G over millimeter wave spectrum, which enables even faster speeds and more capacity to highly trafficked areas. 

Our nationwide 5G network now covers 230 million Americans in 14,000 cities and towns, and AT&T 5G+ is now available in parts of 38 cities in the U.S. 4 4 AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy. For more information on availability, visit att.com/5GforYou

To learn more about the benefits of 5G and how it is changing the way we live, work and play, visit our Technology Innovation issue brief.