AT&T building

Fixed wireless is “not a great product and the customer ultimately is going to reject it,” AT&T Chief Financial Officer Pascal Desroches told investors today.

Unlike the other two major nationwide wireless service providers, AT&T has not embraced fixed wireless access (FWA) in a big way. Meanwhile, Verizon and T-Mobile have been logging big subscriber gains from the technology.

Without mentioning names, though, Desroches hinted that the success might not continue long term.  

“If you look at the amount of data consumed in the home, over time the experience is going to degrade,” he said. “When you start to factor in what is the service being offered at in the marketplace, what is the customer acquisition cost, what is the expected lifetime of that customer, it’s really hard to [get an] attractive return.”

AT&T has what the company considers to be better plans for its spectrum.

“Our spectrum long term provides a great opportunity to expand it and ultimately roll out a new class of service,” Desroches said.

FWA “in certain cases is a nice catch product where we have a copper customer [that] we’re not going to get to in the next 12 to 24 months,” Desroches said in an apparent reference to fiber deployments. “But long term it’s not a solution we want to put a lot of resources behind.

“Let’s not get distracted by chasing empty calories in the near term,” he said.

Desroches made his comments at the Deutsche Bank Media Internet and Telecom Conference.

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7 thoughts on “AT&T CFO Foretells Fall of Fixed Wireless

  1. I have the fixed wireless internet. I’m paying $70-$80 month. I live in a rural area. I’m getting robbed by this price. I have probably 1g for almost. What I’m paying for the service of my cell phone. I need some answers to why??

    1. That’s exactly the point of this article. Wireless spectrum is a finite resource which does congest as more customers access the service. The current FWA has even less spectrum allocated towards it then the cellular network does, with only 10 MHz of B30 being used if I’m not mistaken. Down the road, FWA on mmWave in rural areas may be a viable option as the technology evolves.

      1. Tmobile has much wider spectrum in midband, now getting 3Gbps per cell sector, comparable to mmWave at shorter range. Even so capacity for FWA will always be much lower than cable/fiber so the carriers will have to manage how many FWA customers they allow per cell sector. As long as FWA is priced lower than cable/fiber, it should have its place. And should do pretty well in areas that only have DSL or worse. And it’s cheaper than STarlink.

        1. And mmWave is not feasible in rural areas given such short range relative to homes that can be passed. Midband is best shot.

          1. If every cell tower within a 20 mile radius of me got mmWave, based on rough predicted range, it would cover no more than 5 or so households. I’m 13 miles from the tower I get cell service from, as well as home internet through a pUDP (no 5G at all on the tower, band 13 only).

  2. FOR OUR HOME , FWA WORKS! We have the $50/month fixed wireless 5g internet offered by T-mobile, and often get speeds above 20Mbps. Right now, it is 22 down/28 up. The price INCLUDES all taxes and fees, no bull. This is so much better than the $33.99 plus a bunch of fees/month for DSL from Frontier we had been using. Those speeds maxxed out at 1.2 Mbps down and 0.5 Mbps up. INSTALLATION COULDN’T BE EASIER.

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