Wednesday, September 21, 2016

AT&T Believes Default Future Architecture is Wireless

Just in case you were wondering whether tier-one service providers such as Verizon and AT&T actually believe they can use fixed wireless and mobile services to compete directly with fixed networks--including optical fiber directly to the premises--consider what AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently said at an investor conference.

“Our default or target network architecture in the long run is wireless,” he said. “We think that's where we need to be.”

But what about fiber to the premises? “ Obviously fiber is going to be important for several years,” Stephenson said. Of course that will be the case, in enterprise, backhaul and wholesale settings in particular.

But that is not the key point. AT&T might be wrong, but it actually believes wireless will do the job.

“But as we look out in a world of 5G our target architecture is a wireless architecture,” he said.

Fortune 500 CEOs are a sober lot, not given to flippant remarks when speaking in investor forums. So that is a significant statement.

So that little tidbit is instructive. It will bother some in the ecosystem. Many will doubt the shift to wireless is going to be easy, or even possible. But many of us would not bet against the premise.

There simply is too much development effort, too much new technology, too much new spectrum coming and too clear a need for lower infrastructure and operating costs, for that shift to wireless not to be attempted.

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