FirstNet Reaches More Than 1.9M Connections, Use by 15,000 Agencies
Tuesday, February 02, 2021 | Comments

In its financial results for 2020, AT&T said it now has more than 1.9 million FirstNet connections and more than 15,000 agencies are now using the FirstNet service.

“The FirstNet Authority is pleased to see the adoption of the FirstNet network continue to grow at a fast pace,” said First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) CEO Edward Parkinson. “First responders need a network that works for them, and with the number of connections almost doubling since late 2019, it is clear that FirstNet is providing them with the capabilities they want and need.”

AT&T’s financial results said that the company received $1.063 billion in capital expenditure reimbursements from the FirstNet Authority for the full year. Of that, $7 million came in the first quarter, $72 million came in the second quarter, $64 million came in the third quarter and $920 million came in the fourth quarter. That compared to $1.005 billion that the company received in capital expenditure reimbursements from the FirstNet Authority in 2019.

Meanwhile, according to AT&T’s fourth-quarter financial and operational trends report, the company received reimbursements related to FirstNet operating expenses of $3 million in first quarter, $58 million in the second quarter, $18 million in the third quarter and $488 million in the fourth quarter. Total operating expenditure reimbursements for the year were $567 million.

Total reimbursements across the year were $10 million for the first quarter, $130 million for the second quarter, $82 million for the third quarter and $1.408 billion for the fourth quarter. That led to total reimbursements of $1.63 billion for the full year.

During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, AT&T executives only briefly touched on the FirstNet network.

When asked about capital expenditures (CapEx) moving forward, AT&T Chief Financial Officer (CFO) John Stephens said that the FirstNet build is going well and that as it nears completion, that could change the company’s CapEx moving forward.

“Secondly, with regard to the CapEx, I'd say it this way,” Stephens said. “As you look at the kind of the gross capital being put in the ground, it's up $1 billion. There will be some changes in what we spent last year. I continue to expect a little bit lighter on the video satellite-type side of the business because of the success of AT&T TV and our focus on churn reduction as opposed to gross heads. So, there'll be some more money there. I think you'll see us, we've continued to spend money on wireless, but we're well into and well completed with the FirstNet build. So, we'll have some ability to manage there.”

With the FirstNet build going well, AT&T will also begin looking at changing its deployment strategy.

“And I think the only other thing I would comment on relative to the wireless spend overall, the shift that's occurring, we put a tremendous amount of capacity out over the last several years in combination with a lot of the work we spoke to you about with the FirstNet upgrades,” said AT&T CEO John Stankey. “And there's a kind of a shift in mix going on within the wireless building. We're now moving away from what I would call capacity that's on existing spectrum bands and starting to see ourselves prepped for possibly using other spectrum that may come into service at some point in time, et cetera. So, we got a little bit of a dynamic going on in the shift that's in the overall wireless program.”

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