FirstNet Subscribers Reach 1.3M; 12,000 Agencies
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 | Comments

AT&T announced the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network is supporting more than 1.3 million FirstNet connections across more than 12,000 agencies in service. Those numbers are up since February, when AT&T said it had more than 11,000 public-safety agencies and organizations subscribing to FirstNet, accounting for more than 1.2 million connections nationwide.

Executives said the COVID-19 pandemic had increased the awareness around FirstNet. "We’re going great guns on FirstNet," said John Stankey, president and chief operating officer (COO) of AT&T, during an investor call. "We’re seeing that pace accelerate over the past several weeks. It has helped that product category and the awareness of that product category."

The latest FirstNet numbers were part of AT&T’s first-quarter financial results. In its Communications division, mobility service revenues were up 2.5%, and operating income was up 9%. Postpaid phone churn was 0.86%, a 6 basis point improvement.

“The COVID pandemic had a 5 cents per share impact on our first quarter,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO. “Without it, the quarter was about what we expected — strong wireless numbers that covered the HBO Max investment, and produced stable EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and EBITDA margins.

“We have a strong cash position, a strong balance sheet, and our core businesses are solid and continue to generate good free cash flow — even in today’s environment. In light of the pandemic’s economic impact, we’ve already adjusted our capital allocation plans and suspended all share retirements. As a result, we’re able to continue investing in critical growth areas like 5G, broadband and HBO Max, while maintaining our dividend commitment and paying down debt.”

AT&T's consolidated revenues for the first quarter totaled $42.8 billion versus $44.8 billion in the year-ago quarter. Growth in domestic wireless service revenues and strategic and managed business services revenues partially offset declines in revenues from WarnerMedia, domestic video, legacy wireline services, domestic wireless equipment and Vrio.

Operating expenses were $35.3 billion versus $37.6 billion in the year-ago quarter, down 6.1% because of a one-time spectrum gain, lower Entertainment Group costs, lower WarnerMedia costs primarily associated with lower revenues, lower domestic wireless equipment costs and cost efficiencies. Merger-amortization was stable year-over-year and includes amortization of orbital slots licenses which commenced in the current quarter.

Operating income was $7.5 billion versus $7.2 billion in the year-ago quarter, with operating expense reductions outpacing revenue declines. Operating income margin was 17.5% versus 16.1% in the year-ago quarter.

First-quarter net income attributable to common stock was $4.6 billion versus $4.1 billion in the year-ago quarter. The company did not adjust for COVID-19 costs of about 5 cents in the quarter, with more than half of those costs expected to have only short-term impacts.

Cash from operating activities was $8.9 billion, and capital expenditures were $5 billion. Capital investment, which consists of capital expenditures plus cash payments for vendor financing, totaled $5.8 billion, which includes about $800 million of cash payments for vendor financing. Free cash flow, cash from operating activities minus capital expenditures, was $3.9 billion for the quarter.

Because of the lack of visibility related to COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, the company withdrew financial guidance at this time.

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