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 all the benefits they expect. We build our network for reliability, speed and overall performance to enable tomorrow’s new products and services.

2019 Key Performance Indicators
Investment in wired and wireless networks



Our Action

Our advanced network carries more than 335 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 & Data 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 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 we make adjustments based on those measurements to improve service. We aggregate and analyze this data in near 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. To learn about our commitment to our customers’ privacy and what we do to ensure that the information we collect is both secure and private, visit our Privacy Center.

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 past 5 years (2015-2019), AT&T invested more than $135 billion in our wireless and wireline networks – including capital investments and acquisitions of wireless spectrum and operations – more than any other public company in the U.S.  During this time, we invested more in the United States than any other public company. 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 highly 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 market our 100% fiber network to more than 14 million locations nationwide where we are offering our fast, low-latency internet service powered by AT&T Fiber. 

As of Q2 2020, we have ultra-fast internet service in parts of 85 of the nation’s largest 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. 2 2 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.

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 of at least 50 Mbps, with more than half of those locations seeing near-gig speeds.

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


FirstNet – the nationwide communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and public safety community – is the first and only network built with first responders, for first responders, when and where they need it most.

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 is the first of its kind globally, bringing interoperability for first responders across agencies and jurisdictions and keeping first responders’ lines of communication open with dedicated mission-critical solutions modernizing public safety. Plus, it 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.

Using all AT&T LTE bands, today more than 99% of the U.S. population and more than 2.61 million square miles are covered by FirstNet. This means more first responders and the communities they serve – rural, urban and tribal – are gaining access to the critical communications capabilities they need. As of February 2020, more than 11,000 agencies and organizations – including FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard to name a few – are using over 1.2 million FirstNet connections to respond to real-life emergencies and disasters every day.

Public safety agencies have access to a nationwide, dedicated fleet of 76 land-based and airborne portable cell sites, including 3 Flying COWs™ and the FirstNet One “blimp.” During 2019 alone, the FirstNet Response Operations Program fielded more than 450 requests for additional planned and emergency support, making a meaningful difference.

The impacts of FirstNet have been real, tangible and lifesaving. Reliable connectivity and advanced capabilities for first responders help them keep themselves and those they serve safer. Since bringing the specialized communications platform to life in 2018, first responders have relied on FirstNet in situations ranging from active shooters and plane crashes to hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes, mudslides and earthquakes. This includes the Nashville tornado in 2020 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019. To learn more, visit the FirstNet website at

Network Preparedness

At AT&T, we design our network to be resilient so 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 is 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 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.

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. 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. 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 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.

Software-Defined Networking

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. 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 converted 71% of our network functionality to SDN and are on our way to a goal of 75% by the end of 2020. Should we see any surges in network traffic or other network issues, our core network is 100% under software-defined control, as are many other areas of our network; this allows us to respond rapidly to surges, enable capacity enhancements quickly and rapidly address any security concerns.

This shift to SDN allows us to collaborate with new players and take advantage of innovations more quickly and 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 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.

We’re building a network of the future to address customer needs and deliver new and unique services to them faster than before. 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).
  • 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.

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 two flavors of 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+” is our name for 5G over millimeter wave spectrum, which enables even faster speeds and more capacity to high-trafficked areas. As of February 2020, AT&T introduced 5G in 58 markets and 5G+ in parts of 35 cities. For more information on availability, visit

This new technology has the capability to change our world and we’re excited to continue working in 2020 to further enable the possibilities of a 5G future. We’ll keep our momentum going as we plan to offer 5G nationwide in the second quarter of 2020. To learn more about the benefits of 5G and how it will change the way we live, work, and play, visit our Technology Innovation issue brief.