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AT&T Says Confident In Sustainability Of Its Wireless Momentum

John Stankey, chief executive officer of AT&T Inc. (T), characterized current wireless industry demand trends as healthy, noting that any seasonal uptick in competition remains broadly in line with historical trends. He remains confident in the sustainability of AT&T's wireless momentum, which he attributed to a number of factors including rising share in previously underpenetrated segments of the market, improved customer experience, better network performance and AT&T's simplified and consistent go-to-market strategy.

John Stankey, chief executive officer of AT&T, spoke at the UBS Global TMT Conference, where he provided an update to shareholders.

Stankey reiterated prior comments that AT&T's outlook for 2022 and beyond does not assume a continuation of outsized industry net adds experienced in 2021. if recent wireless industry trends continue, he believes the changes made to AT&T's go-to-market strategy puts the company in a better position to capitalize on healthier than expected demand.

Looking forward, Stankey sees AT&T's 2022 postpaid phone ARPU remaining stable with 2021 levels. Continued opportunity to upgrade customers to higher-ARPU unlimited plans and improved international roaming is expected to offset the impact of amortization accounting for device promotions. Notably, fewer than a quarter of gross adds and upgrades in the third quarter traded in newer devices for premium promotional offers. Only about 20% of AT&T's postpaid smartphones are on Unlimited Elite - the company's highest-ARPU and fastest-growing rate plan.

Stankey said that AT&T's 5G deployment plans are on track. He does not anticipate any material impact from the proactive accommodations made to address Federal Aviation Administration concerns around the deployment of C-band spectrum. In addition, the company remains comfortable with its fiber build plan.

In the coming years, Stankey expects multiple opportunities from the country's largest fiber network, including improved consumer and business penetration and the ability to simultaneously support a robust 5G network. He expects AT&T to continue improving its broadband position through the expansion of its fiber footprint.

Regarding the pending WarnerMedia-Discovery transaction, Stankey said the regulatory review process is proceeding as expected. Post transaction close, the company expects an aggregate annual dividend of $8 billion to $9 billion.AT&T continues to expect the transaction to close by mid-2022.

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