Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Verizon, AT&T Take Different Stance on 5G: That Comes as No Surprise

Verizon and AT&T do not always take the same approach where it comes to technology strategies.

Verizon, recall, has tended historically to move faster when a next generation network is coming, while AT&T tends not to move so aggressively. That was true for FiOS and Long Term Evolution.

Those fundamental approaches--well illustrated by each firm’s approach to next generation access networks--already is on display in the fifth generation network area.

Verizon is moving faster to test what must be called “pre-5G” in 2016, with some commercial deployment, in some form, by 2017. AT&T takes a more measured approach, as it also did with its fiber to node fixed network and fast follower approach to LTE.

There is more to AT&T’s measured approach than simply not wishing to cannibalize the value of 4G. It simply is not AT&T’s approach to be the “first” to deploy the next generation of any access network.

One can argue that Verizon’s move to fiber to home networks has not clearly paid off as expected, although most might agree that Verizon’s early move into 4G LTE was far more successful.

The point is that the differences between Verizon and AT&T where it comes to embracing the next generation of access networks is deliberate, and linked to each firm’s core strategy.

Verizon’s marketing is that it virtually always tries to operate the “best” network. So Verizon typically is driven to build and operate the “best” network, with retail prices generally at the higher end of the market.

AT&T nearly always tries to balance performance with capital investment and the business model, balancing quality and value.

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