ATT’s 5G “Evolutionary Path”


Verizon has demonstrated it has an overview and understanding of its own 5G business strategy. AT&T, on the other hand, has described its 5G implementation strategy as an “Evolutionary Path.” AT&T seems to be employing a business strategy that seeks to extend and leverage the features of existing technologies into the 5G framework of standards now under development.  Does the path taken really matter?

ATT Smart City

Will an “Evolutionary Path” result in greater efficiencies or utility? 1) Leveraging existing infrastructure and taking fuller advantage of the existing LTE feature set does not cost very much to accomplish and therefore could be business efficient. 2) Cell phone “power users,” and/or shared venues via hot-spots, would conceivably have access to greater potential speed subject to cost and availability constraints. But, do cell phones and laptops really need more speed? For most people, the answer would be no. 3) It would be easier in theory for a large corporation to follow a standards-based approach rather than a proprietary one. 4) Following a gradual (pragmatic, risk averse) path may reduce the need to allocate.dedicate large amounts of capital until such time as standards are refined and use cases are developed. (As an example, what did a car look like before it was defined in final form? Were the early car manufacturers punished or rewarded?) 6) Perhaps, and most of all, the “Evolutionary Path” helps to form a market perception that ATT will lead into the future of 5G technology.

Will an “Evolutionary Path” result in greater efficiencies or utility? 1) Leveraging existing infrastructure and taking fuller advantage of the existing LTE feature set does not cost very much to accomplish and therefore could be business efficient. 2) Cell phone “power users,” and/or shared venues via hot-spots, would conceivably have access to greater potential speed subject to cost and availability constraints. But, do cell phones and laptops really need more speed? For most people, the answer would be no. 3) It would be easier in theory for a large corporation to follow a standards-based approach rather than a proprietary one. 4) Following a gradual (pragmatic, risk averse) path may reduce the need to dedicate large amounts of capital until such time as standards are refined and use cases are developed. (As an example, what did a car look like before it was defined in final form? Were the early car manufacturers punished or rewarded?) 6) Perhaps, and most of all, the “Evolutionary Path” helps to form a market perception that AT&T will lead into the future of 5G technology.

Philosophically, is the prize of capturing the high ground on a “Future Industrial Revolution” incremental in nature or revolutionary? Could an incremental approach scale and grow in time to compete with more aggressively focused corporate competitors or even national imperatives?

Unlike Verizon, does AT&T have immediate low hanging 5G fruit from Fixed Wireless? The answer would be no. Will AT&T’s dedication to its media business plan deprive it of the financial depth necessary for the long-term opportunity that 5G represents?

I think the 5G evolutionary “path” to the future matters; it matters more than adherence to technical details and standards, it matters more than faster cell phones. The economic benefit of owning the deployed infrastructure necessary to serve the many use cases of our 5G future does not reside at the end of every path. These are the make or break questions that boardrooms will decide.

Philosophically, is the prize of capturing the high ground on a “Future Industrial Revolution” incremental in nature or revolutionary? Could an incremental approach scale and grow in time to compete with more aggressively focused corporate competitors or even national imperatives?

Unlike Verizon, does AT&T have immediate low hanging 5G fruit from Fixed Wireless? The answer would be no. Will AT&T’s dedication to its media business plan deprive it of the financial depth necessary for the long-term opportunity that 5G represents?

I think the 5G evolutionary “path” to the future matters; it matters more than adherence to technical details and standards, it matters more than faster cell phones. The economic benefit of owning the deployed infrastructure necessary to serve the many use cases of our 5G future does not reside at the end of every path. These are the make or break questions that boardrooms will decide.

copyright W. Pollock 12/19/2018 w@wepollock.com edited by Mike Botwin