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A Look at AT&T’s Key Network Performance Indicators

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AT&T’s network performance

Network performance is a key factor in customer retention. AT&T’s (T) postpaid phone churn improved year-over-year (or YoY) in 4Q16. AT&T’s postpaid phone churn of 0.98% in 4Q16 was lower than its churn rate of 1.1% in 4Q15.

AT&T has indicated that it has been creating new technologies in its network to provide enhanced speed and performance. According to a Wireless Week report on March 2, 2017, AT&T vice president of RAN[1.radio access network] and Device Design Gordon Mansfield stated that “You can get close, you can get up to several hundred with just the macro network and the licensed spectrum, but the way you get to a gigabit is you use licensed spectrum with 4×4 MIMO[2.multiple-input and multiple-output] and 256-QAM[3.quadrature amplitude modulation] and you bring in LAA[4.license assisted access] with unlicensed carriers.”

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AT&T is focusing on an SDN (software-defined networking) approach to transform its network. SDN helps telecom companies save costs and provide more flexibility, as it requires them to virtualize their networks instead of spending on dedicated fixed hardware. AT&T’s SDN penetration increased to 34% by the end of 2016, and it expects the penetration to reach 75% by 2020.

In the past, AT&T spent heavily on Project Velocity IP[5.Internet protocol], or VIP, a program aimed at upgrading its wireless and wireline broadband infrastructure. AT&T claims that its network now has 70,000 cell sites—much more than any competitor. The company has expanded its LTE[6. long-term evolution] reach to Mexico, which means AT&T’s 4G LTE footprint now covers more than 400 million people in North America.

RootMetrics network performance results

According to RootMetrics’ 2H16 RootScore report, at the national level, AT&T placed second in five out of six categories—overall performance, network reliability, speed, data, and text performance. In call performance, Sprint (S) beat AT&T to place second. AT&T remained strong, placing behind Verizon (VZ) for seven consecutive test periods.

Verizon came out on top across all six network performance categories at the national level. Sprint and T-Mobile (TMUS) ranked third and fourth, respectively, in overall network performance.

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