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Having acquired Time Warner and DirecTV in 2018 in an attempt to become a major media player, AT&T spent much of 2021 dealing with the fact that the attempt ultimately failed. It sold off its underperforming media businesses, merging them into a new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, while reaping some $40 billion in cash to help reduce its debt load. Overall, AT&T shed 28,000 employees over the course of 2021, as well as 14.5% of its share price. Despite the setbacks, AT&T’s core businesses fared well: Its fiber internet service ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction in 2021 based on an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey. AT&T added 3.2 million phone subscribers in 2021, a tally that exceeded its net new customers gained in the previous 10 years combined. AT&T is now focused on growing its 5G network and fiber-optic footprint.
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