AT&T's broadband results in Q4 were a mixed bag as the company continued to shed DSL customers even as it expanded the number of customers taking service on the company's expanding fiber footprint.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shed 32,000 total broadband subs in Q4, adding 6,000 "IP" broadband subs while losing another 38,000 DSL customers. AT&T ended 2018 with 13.72 million IP broadband subs, and just 680,000 DSL subs.
Aided by its fiber buildout, revenues for AT&T's overall broadband business grew about 6% year-over-year.
AT&T ended 2018 with about 11 million residential "locations" passed by fiber, and is on track to boost that to 14 million later this year. With business locations factored in, AT&T is on pace to have its fiber network pass some 22 million locations.
Speaking on today's earnings call, Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chairman and CEO, called the company's fiber build "foundational" to AT&T's 5G deployment.
In 2018, AT&T added more than 1 million broadband customers to its fiber footprint, and about 250,000 in Q4 alone.
AT&T has seen 40% penetration in its fiber markets after 18 months, jumping to about 50% after three years. "There's a lot of growth left in converting and growing total [broadband] customers," said John Stephens, AT&T's senior EVP and CFO.
Update: AT&T's broadband sub results disappoint
Still, the 6,000 IP broadband adds were a "surprisingly weak" and a "shock," given AT&T's fiber footprint expansion, and was well off consensus expectations of 82,000 adds, and below the gain of 95,000 a year ago, MoffettNathanson LLC analyst Craig Moffett said in a research note. The irony was that the 38,000 DSL sub losses were lower than the expected 62,000, and somewhat softened the blow, he said.
"It must be judged a disappointment that AT&T is still losing net broadband subscribers (-32K) given the expansion in their fiber-to-the-home buildout of the past few years," Moffett added.
Looking ahead, AT&T expects to use standards-based 5G as a replacement product for fixed broadband within three to five years, Stephenson said.
AT&T said it's also seeing some success with pay-TV bundles in its fiber footprint. However, the overall pay-TV picture for AT&T was rough in Q4 as customers on promotional and discounted offers churned away.
New pay-TV focus: Profits over promotions
AT&T lost 658,000 total subscribers in Q4, including 403,000 DirecTV satellite TV customers and 267,000 subs for DirecTV Now, the company's OTT-TV service.
With much of its heavy promotional activity behind it (the average revenue per user for DirecTV Now rose by $11 on a sequential basis in Q4), AT&T is now focusing on higher-margin, more profitable video subs as it attempts to get its broader Entertainment Group to an EBIDTA-positive level.
More than a half-million Irish residents expected to have fiber broadband by 2020. But Ireland's National Broadband Plan has not even begun — and government officials today postponed any agreement again.
In a new report and searchable database, Broadband Now discovered fiber is the is the least expensive technology powering subscribers' connections. But the poorest, most rural residents pay the most for connectivity, regardless of underlying infrastructure.
As Vice President of Global Healthcare at AT&T, Maria Lensing oversees the telecommunications operator's technology and professional services offerings across the spectrum of medical providers, from solo practitioners and walk-in clinics to giant hospital chains, medical-device vendors and consulting firms. Lensing also sees more interest from traditional service providers -- cable and telecom operators looking to expand or build relationships with their own medical communities, perhaps as an adjunct to smart-home successes or standalone.
Lensing, who took on this role almost a year ago in May 2018, oversees both the sales and technical teams responsible for developing growth initiatives for AT&T's Global Healthcare business -- including products, services and industry-specific solutions. She also very actively promotes business minority inclusion, education and female empowerment programs and has been recognized both within and outside AT&T. Some awards she's received include "Top 40 Under 40" and "Super Woman in Business" from the Memphis Business Journal.
Join Maria Lensing, VP of Global Healthcare at AT&T, on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. PT, when she's the guest on BBWN Radio, hosted by Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana. Register now!
So far, the agenda includes a discussion of technologies such as fiber and 5G; defining the needs and solutions for a widely diverse range of customers; partnering for success in a typically slow-moving, budget-constrained market; learning and dispersing best practices from other verticals and within other business groups; promoting diversity and female empowerment when so many say they're doing so but so little has changed; and what she hopes to accomplish in another year in this role.
Register and post your questions for Maria on BBWN Radio's easy-to-use chat board. We will get to as many questions as possible. Please post questions before and during the broadcast. Once you've registered, you will be led to the chat board page. Talk to you on April 23!
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on February 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT / 4 p.m. UK when John Isch, Practice Director of the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services, discusses use cases, ROI and misconceptions of software-defined wide-area networks, virtualization and cloud.
Just when you thought the answer to your next technology direction question was clear, the noise around multiple new technology options fills the Internet and airwaves. Multiple 5Gs are being deployed; there's CableLabs' 10G initiative; the ITU and IEEE are toiling around 50G PON – and we haven’t even talked about Wi-Fi6 yet! Is any of this real, do you have to pay attention or can you just let the dust settle and then decide?
Since waiting is often not the best option, let’s demystify technology options, their impact on your business, and how to prepare for whatever the future brings.
In this webinar, Service Providers will learn:
Current state of 5G and how it affects everyone, not only mobile network providers.
Latest technologies being developed and how they will benefit their networks and subscribers.
How to prepare their networks for the future – whatever it may hold.