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AT&T Invests in Illinois Infrastructure to Boost Network

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AT&T Inc. (T - Free Report) recently announced that it has invested more than $7.2 billion in its Illinois wireless and wired networks during 2011-2018, in an attempt to strengthen its market dominance. With these planned investments, the telecom giant aims to enhance reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for consumers and business houses. In 2018, the company made 1,751 wireless network upgrades in Illinois. It added new cell sites and increased network capacity.

The wireless carrier has improved critical services that support Public Safety and first responders using the FirstNet communications platform. Markedly, this platform has been built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority — an independent agency within the federal government. AT&T has also helped meet customers’ needs mostly in rural areas by participating in the FCC’s Connect America Fund.

Over the past five years, AT&T has invested around $145 billion in wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisitions of wireless spectrum and operations. Its fiber network is one of the nation’s largest and connects more Internet of Things devices compared to any other provider in North America.

AT&T’s wireless network covers more than 99% of Americans and is reportedly the fastest in the nation. Its LTE network reaches more than 400 million people in North America. Noteworthy network enhancements across Illinois in 2018 included making more than 1,712 capacity upgrades, adding four new cell sites, expanding 4G LTE to four cell sites, and improving 31 distributed antenna system networks.

AT&T has long-term earnings growth expectation of 4.5%. Driven by diligent execution of operational strategies, the stock has rallied 19% compared with the industry’s growth of 8.2% in the year-to-date period.

Further, AT&T is on track to deliver on all its 2019 priorities. It continues to pay down debt and remains confident to meet its year-end deleveraging goal. The company’s FirstNet build is not only running ahead of schedule, it has become a driver of its wireless network leadership in speed, reliability and network performance. Also, it facilitates AT&T to have nationwide commercially available 5G coverage in the first half of 2020.

The company’s 5G service involves utilization of millimeter wave spectrum for deployment in dense pockets, and in suburban and rural areas, it plans to deploy 5G on mid- and low-band spectrum holdings. It is building networks that enable fiber-based connectivity and LTE to work efficiently in parallel with 5G solutions, making the most of business transformation.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

AT&T currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the industry include I.D. Systems, Inc. (IDSY - Free Report) , United States Cellular Corp. (USM - Free Report) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

I.D. Systems has long-term earnings growth expectation of 30%.

U.S. Cellular surpassed earnings estimates thrice in the trailing four quarters, the average positive surprise being 38.3%.

Verizon surpassed earnings estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, the average positive surprise being 2.6%.

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