Network Quality & Reliability
Reliable connectivity is vital to ensuring communities can thrive—day-to-day and during times of disaster. We optimize and expand our network to provide families, businesses and public safety agencies with the services they need to succeed, including 5G and high-speed fiber. We also work to strengthen our network to withstand the impacts of climate change and are collaborating with internal and external stakeholders to develop innovative technologies and further grow our network. Today, our 5G network reaches more than 285 million people in nearly 24,000 cities and towns across the U.S.
Network Quality & Reliability Data
|Capital investment and acquisition of wireless spectrum12||$22.3B||$24.3B||$19.3B||$45.6B||$34.5B|
|Network traffic on an average business day (petabytes)||262.8||335.1||436.9||484.8||553.0|
|System average interruption frequency (disruptions per customer)||0.000765058||0.000710391||0.000641026||0.000627294||0.000521984|
|Customer average interruption duration (hours per customer)||0.033005565||0.033198749||0.060255178||0.055291054||0.044249477|
Our Actions & Impacts
In 2022, AT&T took the following actions to continue enhancing the quality and reliability of our network:
- We invested in our network to meet the growing demand for connectivity, and we consistently maintained more than 99.5% reliability for our customers.
- We enhanced 5G reliability and launched our mid-band 5G spectrum, which covered 150 million people by the end of 2022—more than double our initial year-end target.
- We expanded our Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT) to include wildfire and drought risk data, enabling us to better understand and plan for the risks posed by climate change and increasingly severe weather events.
- We strengthened communications for first responders with the FirstNet network, covering 2.9 million square miles and more than 99% of the U.S. population. In 2022, the FirstNet team at AT&T provided critical communications during and after the Colorado and Yosemite fires, flooding in Kentucky, Hurricane Ian and other events.
Our Network teams collect billions of service-assurance measurements across our wireline and wireless networks every hour and analyze this data in near-real time to help improve performance and deliver our best customer experience. Our Business Continuity Management Program consists of recovery strategies and procedures that are updated, exercised and certified on an annual basis, or more frequently, as business conditions require. The following roles are responsible for governance of network quality, resilience and business continuity:
- Executive Vice President—Network: This role is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of our network resilience and business continuity efforts.
- Access Construction & Engineering: This team is responsible for engineering, build and operations of wireline and wireless networks.
- Engineering & Operations: This team is responsible for planning our roadmap for mobility core and broadband growth, network operations support, energy optimization and infrastructure provisioning. This organization also manages business continuity planning, the Global Technology Operations Center and 24/7 monitoring of our network.
- Network Planning & Engineering: This team is responsible for leading the management of AT&T’s relationship with other telecommunications providers worldwide, management of AT&T’s network capital, global technology planning for network technologies and operations for AT&T’s wireless roaming and tower portfolios.
- Board of Directors: The AT&T Board of Directors receives regular reports on network matters from executive leadership, primarily from the Executive Vice President—Network.
To learn about our network management policies, see our Network Practices website.
AT&T uses a combination of fiber and 5G to deliver reliable, high-speed internet to urban, suburban and rural areas across America. Over the past 5 years (2018–2022), AT&T invested more than $140 billion primarily in our U.S. wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisitions of wireless spectrum.2 Our strategy continues to focus on the following:
- 5G Expansion: We expanded our 5G network to reach more than 285 million people in nearly 24,000 cities and towns in 2022. Our mid-band 5G spectrum covered 150 million people by the end of 2022. Offering mid-band 5G+ complements our high-band 5G+ with another crucial layer in our network. With our mid-band holdings, AT&T will nearly double the amount of capable capacity we acquired for legacy 4G (and earlier) networks. We are actively layering in 5G+ mid-band spectrum to equip networks for customer demand and future use cases.
- 4G Investment: We continue to invest in our 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to provide our customers with the performance and reliability they expect no matter where they are.
- We are deploying transmission equipment closer to the antennas on our cell towers to improve network performance, helping extend coverage and enhance speed and reliability. Cell towers are connected to the AT&T network via fiber cables—these connections are being enhanced to enable faster wireless connections.
- Through various access points, we are placing antennas where they have the most impact through the use of small cells, macro cells and distributed antenna systems. This serves both 4G LTE and 5G service, while also helping efficiently deploy spectrum assets.
- Our network is designed with its core elements distributed across the country. That means data traﬃc gets on the internet faster, which increases mobile data speeds.
- Fiber Internet Footprint: We are taking an integrated fiber planning approach with the goal of attaching as many endpoints as possible to each strand of fiber. Expanding our fiber footprint allows us to offer fast, low-latency internet service to businesses and consumers. To ensure our customers have the best connectivity solutions to meet their needs, AT&T Fiber offers symmetrical speeds up to 5 gigs across parts of its entire footprint of more than 100 U.S. metro areas.
- Reliable High-Speed Service for Businesses: As of Q4 2022, AT&T fiber has the ability to serve more than 19 million customer locations and more than 3 million U.S. business customer locations. Through products such as AT&T Business Fiber, AT&T Switched Ethernet ServiceSM and AT&T Dedicated Internet, fiber in the AT&T network provides the bandwidth needed to support data-intensive services, such as video, collaboration, cloud services and more for small and medium businesses.
For the latest information on our deployment and coverage, visit the AT&T Network website.
To help ensure our cell sites can withstand natural disasters and other environmental factors, our professional engineers conduct regular analyses and complete upgrades or modifications to maintain safe, reliable tower capacity and meet or exceed all applicable building codes. We deploy high-capacity battery backup or permanent generators to all our cell sites, which allows service continuity in the event of power loss until primary power is restored. Our approach to network resilience includes:
- Preparation: We have tools to monitor climate- and weather-related events that may impact our network infrastructure, including:
- Climate Change Analysis Tool: Our network teams across the country are beginning to use information generated by our CCAT to make data-driven decisions about infrastructure, such as the placement of cell towers and other network assets. This tool layers our physical asset data over future climate impact data to visualize potential flooding, high winds and other climate risks. We continue to enhance CCAT, and in 2022, we expanded coverage to include wildfire and drought risk across the contiguous 48 states. The rich climate datasets powering CCAT are also publicly available so other organizations and communities can also assess their climate-related vulnerability. For more information, please visit our Climate Change & Greenhouse Gas Emissions issue brief.
- AT&T Weather Operations Center: At this center, AT&T meteorologists proactively monitor potential nature-related threats to our network, employees and communities. For example, in the days leading up to Hurricane Ian, AT&T was able to position our disaster response equipment and put personnel on standby in strategic areas to expedite our response time in support of impacted communities.
- Network Disaster Recovery: We have invested more than $650 million in our Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) Program, which exists to rapidly restore communications to areas affected by disasters. We are committed to on-the-ground testing and have dedicated 160,000 working hours to full-scale NDR recovery exercises in the field, which test the preparedness of our equipment and abilities. These drills help local and regional first responders understand the role and abilities of our NDR organization, and they maintain the readiness of our teams and equipment to respond at a moment’s notice to recover a failed network office or network element in disaster situations.
- Disaster Response Procedures: In the event of a disaster or other emergency, we implement procedures to quickly restore network functionality, provide critical resources to impacted employees, field customer inquiries and return or establish service in impacted communities.
To learn more about our approach to network resilience, visit AT&T Disaster Recovery. Our customers can also access information about network outages in their area for the services to which they subscribe on our Consumer Network Reliability website.
Our global team of certified and experienced business continuity experts works to maintain the operation of business processes across the company using a risk-based approach to document business resumption plans. Our approach to business continuity includes:
- Business Continuity Management Program: The AT&T Business Continuity Management Program includes management disciplines, processes and techniques to support our employees and critical business operations in the event of a significant business disruption, with a focus on maintaining delivery of customer services, including during climate-related events.
- Industry Standards: The AT&T Business Continuity Management Program is certified to the international business continuity standard, ISO 22301:2021. It is also aligned with the Disaster Recovery Institute International Professional Practices, Business Continuity Institute Good Practice Guidelines, Federal Emergency Management Agency National Incident Management System and ISO 31000. Our alignment with these standards indicates our readiness to resume business operations and deliver customer service in the vital hours and days after a disaster.
FirstNet3 is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform built for and dedicated to America’s first responders and the public safety community. Built and maintained by AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), the FirstNet network enables first responders to communicate more quickly and reliably. AT&T is held accountable by the FirstNet Authority to meet its congressionally mandated obligations. Details of FirstNet include:
- Coverage: More than 99% of the U.S. population and 2.9 million square miles are covered by FirstNet. This coverage means more first responders and the communities they serve—rural, urban and tribal—have access to the critical communications capabilities they need. Thousands of local, state and federal agencies, organizations and first responders—and millions of individual devices—connect to FirstNet.
- Access: Public safety agencies have access to a nationwide, dedicated fleet of more than 150 land-based and airborne portable cell sites, including Flying COWs® (Cell on Wings)—which are cell sites on drones. The FirstNet App Catalog includes reliable applications built and tested specifically for the public safety community’s needs.
- Impact: Public safety agencies rely on FirstNet in situations such as active shootings, bombings, plane crashes, hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes, mudslides and earthquakes. In 2022, the FirstNet team at AT&T provided critical communications during and after the Colorado and Yosemite fires, flooding in Kentucky, Hurricane Ian and other events. We will continue to expand our support in 2023 and beyond, responding to unprecedented weather events and other disasters and emergencies whenever they occur.
Technology is an important part of our efforts to address global business and societal challenges. Our network investments lay the foundation for new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, video analytics, virtual reality, augmented reality, edge computing, 5G, hybrid private cellular networks and the Internet of Things (IoT). These investments are an important component of AT&T’s business success, helping to attract employee talent, remain competitive and enhance our brand’s reputation with customers. Our approach to technology innovation includes:
- Research & Development: AT&T scientists and engineers conduct research in areas such as internet protocol networking, advanced network design and architecture, cybersecurity, network operations support systems, satellite technology, video platform development and data analytics. Most development activities are performed to create new services and invent tools and systems to manage secure and reliable networks for our customers and AT&T. Our research and development investments totaled more than $1.2 billion in 2022.
- Collaboration: The AT&T 5G Innovation Studio brings together organizations across AT&T and explores new enterprise and consumer use cases while accelerating the path to market of new product offerings and key strategic initiatives. The space is equipped with the latest wireless and wireline technologies, including multiaccess edge computing, a private stand-alone 5G network, multi-gig fiber broadband and more. With customers and industry collaborators, our scientists and engineers ideate, test and validate new 5G-centric applications across a variety of industries. We are also collaborating with MxD to evolve a new demonstration center for emerging manufacturing communications technologies.
2022 Innovation Highlights
- AT&T Staff Alert: We created AT&T Staff Alert, a hybrid private/public wireless network IoT solution that helps protect remote workers in the hospitality industry with an easy-to-use security device that operates as a personal panic button for use in emergencies to summon help to rooms and common areas.
- Utility Company Collaborations: AT&T collaborated with several utility companies across the U.S. to upgrade their monitoring and communications infrastructure, helping provide deeper insight into energy operations.
- Healthcare Manufacturer Collaborations: We made inroads with healthcare manufacturers to embed wireless communications in products that previously existed in a non-connected state, enabling new remote patient monitoring and diagnostic solutions in a pandemic-concerned marketplace.
- Edge Zones: We launched local 5G stand-alone cores, connected to local third-party cloud service providers. Bringing the network edge closer to customers enables new wireless applications that require sophisticated compute and low latency, laying the foundation for a broader range of services.
- One-Touch Mid-Band Spectrum Deployment: Where feasible, we are simultaneously implementing our C-Band and 3.45 mid-band spectrum via a one-touch approach with radios compatible for both. This approach is more economical, efficient and provides better flexibility in terms of coverage and capacity.
Green Network Innovations
We are designing more sustainable networks that are optimized for energy efficiency across hardware and software. Our actions for a greener network include:
- Cell Site Sleeping: We enable select cell site capacity to sleep under low loads to conserve energy. We have done this by using machine learning algorithms that we created to optimize sleeping without impairing customer experience. Cell site sleeping is deployed across our U.S. mobility network, and in 2022 saved the equivalent annual power use of 13,500 average homes.
- Anomaly Detection: We use machine learning and analytics to identify inefficient cell sites that consume high amounts of energy. We then dispatch repair teams to these sites to maintain energy efficiency.
- Network Decommissioning: We work with engineering teams to identify and decommission older, less efficient network equipment. For instance, we look at alternative network architectures to enable us to streamline capacity needs and decommission more equipment to reduce energy and save on operations costs.
- Renewable Energy: We are committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across our global operations by 2035. The electricity needed to power the company’s network is AT&T’s largest source of emissions. AT&T is one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy in the U.S., which helps us reduce our carbon footprint and address the global challenge of climate change. For more information, visit our Climate Change & Greenhouse Gas Emissions issue brief.
- Video Optimizer: Our open-source video optimizer helps developers improve apps’ performance and network efficiency. This tool reduces the amount of traffic carried on networks, reduces the energy needed to run the network equipment that transmits the videos and reduces the amount of hardware deployed and the amount of energy consumed.
Through organizations such as AT&T Labs, the AT&T Chief Data Office (CDO), the AT&T 5G Innovation Studio and the AT&T Intellectual Property Group, we aim to tackle some of the most difficult challenges and opportunities associated with evolving technologies. Some of the world’s best scientists, developers and engineers work at AT&T. Whether in Labs, in the CDO organization or in other groups, our talent focuses their unique research capabilities and expertise on our network and anything that uses our network. We are at the forefront in creating advanced technologies that will drive future innovations in AI and automation, software-defined items, network and customer experience, video and media analytics and open-source platforms. Our work includes:
- Open-Source Software: Open-source software provides better control and allows us to manage and deploy network services more cost-effectively and efficiently. AT&T Labs is centered around “Network AI,” the AT&T framework for open-source efforts that will drive the company’s software-defined network. Our core network is 100% under software-defined control, as are many other areas of our network. This allows us to respond rapidly to any surges in network traffic, quickly enable capacity enhancements and promptly address any security concerns.
- Supplier Engagement: Our suppliers add value to our company with innovation and fresh ideas, frequently sponsoring research and working with AT&T Labs alongside AT&T employees. Many of our supplier agreements promote innovation through models of shared value, such as joint intellectual property agreements or shared revenue.
- Data Democratization: CDO acts as a catalyst to spread reusable capabilities across AT&T to support greater data-driven decision-making at all levels of the company. We have empowered business managers with self-serve access to “single version of truth” datasets using business intelligence tooling. We are also extending low/no-code AI creation capabilities across the firm.
We engage and collaborate with our communities and industry partners regarding network quality and reliability. Our stakeholder engagement activities are centered on:
- Collaboration: We work closely with local communities on all construction activities, including local and state processes for permitting, advance notice and approvals on our infrastructure investments. In addition, AT&T is a founding member of the O-RAN Alliance, which works toward more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. We have participated in several major open-source initiatives, all designed to support openness, visibility and security, maximize speed and accelerate innovation while controlling costs.
- Feedback Channels: If a community expresses concerns about AT&T network investments or activities, the concern or grievance is collected through our state External & Legislative Affairs teams and our Office of the President and reported to the appropriate department for resolution.
Our Path Forward
Connectivity is changing how people live and has become a necessity in our everyday lives. Demand for fast and reliable 5G and fiber remains at an all-time high. AT&T will continue to invest in high-quality 5G and fiber buildouts to provide connectivity to those who need it most. We will also continue to expand FirstNet, supporting public safety in 2023 and beyond as they respond to unprecedented weather events, emergencies and other disasters whenever they occur.
- AT&T 5G
- AT&T Consumer Network Reliability website
- AT&T Disaster Recovery
- AT&T Intellectual Property Group
- AT&T Labs
- AT&T Network website
- AT&T Network Practices website
- AT&T Software-Defined Network website
- Business Continuity Institute Good Practice Guidelines
- Climate Change Analysis Tool
- Disaster Recovery Institute International Professional Practices
- Federal Emergency Management Agency National Incident Management System
- FirstNet App Catalog
- First Responder Network Authority
- ISO 31000
- O-RAN Alliance
- Capital investment from continuing operations is a non-GAAP financial measure that provides an additional view of cash paid for capital investment to provide a comprehensive view of cash used to invest in our networks, product developments and support systems. In connection with capital improvements, we negotiate with some of our vendors to obtain favorable payment terms of 120 days or more, referred to as vendor financing, which are excluded from capital expenditures and reported in accordance with GAAP as financing activities. Click here to see our capital investment and acquisition of wireless spectrum calculation.
- The years ended December 31, 2020 through 2022 present results from continuing operations, while the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2019 also include results from our former WarnerMedia, Vrio, Xandr and Playdemic Ltd. businesses (businesses that met the criteria for discontinued operations).
- FirstNet and the FirstNet logo are registered trademarks of the First Responder Network Authority. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Last Updated: 10/10/2023
Related Priority Topics
- Climate Change Governance
- Climate Change Strategy
- GHG Emissions Inventory
- Philanthropic Giving
- Disaster Response
- Bridging the Digital Divide
- Connected Learning
- Rural Connectivity
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Efficiency Projects
- Energy Management Platform
- AT&T Security Standards
- AT&T Business Solutions
- Awareness & Education
- Global Privacy Program
- Employee Privacy Training
- Advocacy & Transparency
- Product Sustainability
- Packaging & Paper
- Refurbishment & Recycling