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AT&T Sketches Out Life After Hollywood

AT&T said Friday it would focus coming investments on 5G wireless network connections and fiber-optic lines.


Anthony Behar/Sipa/associated press

AT&T Inc.

offered more concrete plans for its telecommunications operations after it abandons the entertainment business, detailing goals to drop old copper telephone networks and build new fiber-optic lines.

The Dallas company issued new financial targets Friday, while

Discovery Inc.

shareholders were slated to vote on that company’s plan to merge with AT&T’s soon-to-be spun-off WarnerMedia division. The telecom giant bought the media company, then called Time Warner, in 2018. But AT&T in May announced plans to leave Hollywood.

AT&T on Friday said it would focus its investments on fifth-generation wireless network connections and fiber-optic lines. To that end, the company said it would cut its network of copper lines—a legacy of its landline telephone network—in half by 2025, allowing the company to serve 75% of its network footprint using 5G and fiber.

The company said it would double the number of locations it serves through fiber lines to more than 30 million. That implies AT&T will add another 3.5 million to 4 million fiber locations to its subscriber base each year.

AT&T and

Verizon Communications Inc.

have both refocused their attention on broadband and mobile-phone service in recent years after scrapping big bets on digital media and entertainment. Verizon last week offered investors an overview of its plans for coming years and said its “ultra wideband” 5G network will cover 175 million people by the end of 2022, a year ahead of schedule.

AT&T executives have said they would expand their 5G network more slowly to take advantage of wireless spectrum licenses as they become available. The company said it would expand its portfolio of 5G airwaves with more C-band spectrum that will cover 200 million people by the end of 2023.

AT&T plans to nearly halve its dividend after closing its media spinoff, a move that will help the remaining telecom company steer cash toward other priorities. The company said Friday it expects to pay its May dividend in line with the new $1.11 annual payout. Executives expect the WarnerMedia spinoff and merger with Discovery to close early in the second quarter.

Shares in AT&T rose less than 1% in early trading.

Airlines canceled some flights before a new 5G wireless service rolled out, even after Verizon and AT&T agreed to limit the signal around U.S. airports. The FAA says the service could affect airplane safety systems, a claim the wireless industry refutes. Photo: Justin Lane/Shutterstock

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