AT&T Exec: Most 450,000 FirstNet Subscribers Were Former AT&T Customers
Thursday, March 14, 2019 | Comments

Most of the current 450,000 First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) subscribers were former AT&T customers, but the carrier plans to capitalize on its FirstNet contract by increasing its first responder market share and adding friends and family of FirstNet subscribers, said AT&T Senior Executive Vice President John Stephens.

He said the carrier had 450,000 FirstNet customers from 5,000 agencies at the end of 2018.

“I will mention that a lot of those customers were customers of AT&T before,” Stephens said during the March 12 Deutsche Bank Media and Telecom Conference. “They migrated over to our FirstNet service. But now, we're starting to add significant numbers of FirstNet customers, so we feel good about that.

“FirstNet opens us up to 3 million firefighters, police officers, EMTs (emergency medical technicians). We've been authorized by over 5,000 municipalities, governments, subdivisions, police departments, fire departments to sell into.”

Stephens said adding a phone, tablet, body camera, drone or other device increases the public-safety population to a possible 10 million. “We don't have much market share in that group,” he said. “But then you think about friends and family and you think, well, I can get that firefighter's husband on the plan or that firefighter's children. That's a tremendous growth opportunity for us.”

The carrier is targeting city departments beyond public safety, such as parking assistance and water management agencies, for its customer base.

Stephens touted AT&T’s service in Florida, where the financial conference was held, when Hurricane Irma hit last year. “We were the first ones [here], and our network worked,” he said. “If you're a customer of one of the other providers, and you were down here during that storm, you were probably riding on our network because we carried all their traffic.”

The executive said AT&T spent more than $20 billion in capital expenditures last year and will likely spend $23 billion in gross capital — prior to the reimbursement from its contract with FirstNet — this year. He said FirstNet service revenue is increasing by 3 percent.

Stephens said AT&T had 40 percent FirstNet coverage — both rural and urban U.S. coverage — at the end of last year.

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