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Bank of America Is Positive on AT&T’s Broadband Business

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Jun. 27 2019, Published 7:53 a.m. ET

AT&T’s broadband subscribers

AT&T (T) has been relying on growing its broadband subscriber base amid declining pay-TV and video customers. AT&T lost 544,000 premium TV subscribers (including DIRECTV and U-verse customers) in the first quarter. Its IP broadband revenue soared 10.2% YoY (year-over-year) to $2.1 billion in the first quarter of 2019 on the back of higher revenue from AT&T fiber customers, partially offset by pricing.

The company saw net additions of 45,000 total broadband subscribers in the first quarter, wherein its IP broadband customer net additions were 93,000 and its fiber net additions were 297,000.

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Broadband penetration

About 75% of all broadband subscribers are on AT&T’s fiber network with speeds of 100 Mbps (megabits per second) or more, and its number of broadband customers with speeds of 100 Mbps or faster has increased nearly 150% in the past year.

Currently, AT&T’s fiber network is available in more than 12 million customer locations due to its more extensive footprint than AT&T’s non-fiber penetration. The company is likely to hit ~14 million locations with fiber by mid-July, according to Bank of America analyst David Barden. AT&T’s broadband business should also contribute to its earnings, according to Barden.

Pay-TV companies are losing residential video customers

Like AT&T, many companies have been struggling to maintain their US pay-TV subscriber bases due to cord cutting. In the first quarter, US wireless mobile carriers Verizon and Frontier lost 53,000 Fios video customers and 54,000 video customers, respectively, in the first quarter. Cable giant Dish Network (DISH) also lost 259,000 pay-TV subscribers in the first quarter. Charter (CHTR) lost 152,000 residential video customers and 145,000 total video customers in the quarter, whereas Comcast (CMCSA) lost 107,000 residential video customers and 121,000 video customers in the quarter.

Most recently, AT&T and Dish Network are looking to explore options to combine their satellite-TV businesses amid intense competition from online streaming rivals and a continued decline in pay-TV subscribers.

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