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AT&T Spreading Fiber Service in Louisville After Google's Exit

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Per media reports, AT&T Inc. (T - Free Report) has stepped up efforts to win subscribers for its fiber service in Louisville after Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google announced last month that it would cease operations in the middle of April citing cost prohibitions.

This California-based tech behemoth’s division, Google Fiber, encountered challenges in resolving problems that were disruptive to residents and caused service issues. Notably, Google Fiber had spent more than a year installing fiber optic cable in parts of the Highlands, Newburg and Portland, starting fall 2017.

Reportedly, the telecom and media giant started sending representatives to local shops to meet Google’s customers in the Highlands to stoke business growth. Along with Spectrum — a trade name of Charter Communications (CHTR - Free Report) — it has even enhanced advertising on local television and in newspaper to woo potential customers.

In fact, this latest strategic move is seen to be part of a tussle between AT&T and Google in a bid to woo customers who desire high-speed broadband services in cities like Austin. At the end of 2018, AT&T stated that it is planning to add a dozen of new metropolitan areas for its fiber service, which would bring its total to more than 80 cities in the United States. Apart from attracting customers to broadband access, management’s decision was to boost the company’s push into 5G networks.

Recently, the company revamped its video content lineup at competitive price points to augment its subscriber base and enhance overall revenues as lower video packages are offset by higher digital ad revenues. AT&T is also restructuring its WarnerMedia business to better focus on video streaming service and fine tune its operating model with the evolving consumer’s needs.

Furthermore, AT&T aims to leverage the inherent potential of its advertising unit Xandr, and WarnerMedia’s Turner business to offer enriching advertising content and data analysis to customers in 2019. The company has collaborated these business entities to improve the relevancy of advertising by pooling a unique set of assets — valuable consumer data and insights, advanced advertising capabilities and engaged passionate fanbases.

Driven by diligent execution of operational objectives, shares of AT&T have recorded an average return of 8.3% compared with the industry’s rise of 7.2% in the past three months.

As of Dec 31, 2018, AT&T had $5,204 million in cash and equivalents with $166,250 million of long-term debt. This apart, the company remains committed to managing its debt portfolio and is well on track to achieve its target of 2.5x debt-to-EBITDA range by 2019 end.

AT&T also is poised to benefit from solid momentum in its wireless business, including the impending 5G boom. The company unveiled its 5G policy framework that hinges on three pillars — mobile 5G, fixed wireless and edge computing.

In order to have a seamless transition among Wi-Fi, LTE and 5G services, AT&T intends to deploy a standards-based nationwide mobile 5G network in early 2020. Markedly, the company’s 5G service entails utilization of millimeter wave spectrum for deployment in dense pockets, while in suburban and rural areas it intends to deploy 5G on mid- and low-band spectrum holdings.

AT&T believes that as the 5G ecosystem evolves, customers can experience significant improvements in coverage, speeds and devices. The telecom giant has already introduced mobile 5G networks in parts of 12 cities and intends to add seven more cities in the first half of 2019.

AT&T has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the same industry is CenturyLink, Inc. (CTL - Free Report) , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

CenturyLink has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 12.7%.

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