BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: This falls into the category of a gaffe, or when a politically-minded business like AT&T accidentally tells the truth. Here, the truth is that 5G is not, current hype notwithstanding, a fiber-to-the-home killer. Instead, 5G will rely more directly on fiber build deeper into neighborhoods. And, as AT&T said, fiber-to-the-home would be a better solution to 5G when the fiber is already in a residential neighborhood.
AT&T admitted this week it was not excited about delivering residential broadband over 5G wireless networks, calling arguments for wireless 5G in-home broadband “a very tricky business case.”
John Stephens, AT&T’s chief financial officer, told analysts in a quarterly conference call AT&T has tested 5G wireless technology and it works from a technological standpoint, but the company isn’t sure there is a compelling business case to sell 5G technology as a home wired broadband replacement.
“We’re not as excited about the business case. It’s not as compelling yet for us as it may be for some,” Stephens said, explaining companies planning to offer 5G service will need to find extensive, existing fiber networks or construct their own in residential neighborhoods to connect each small cell 5G antenna. Where AT&T provides local phone service, it is already expanding its own fiber network to replace existing copper wire facilities.
“Frankly, if we’ve got fiber there, it may be just as effective and maybe even a better quality product to give those customers fiber-to-the-home” instead of 5G wireless service, Stephens told Wall Street.