LAS VEGAS – A top AT&T executive said the carrier is not concerned about the rapidly growing number of customers who are paying for its unlimited data service, and the additional network traffic those customers could create. AT&T in the second quarter said more than 5 million customers are now signed up to the unlimited data plans it offers to DirecTV subscribers.
“We feel very comfortable with the [network] usage. We feel very comfortable with what we’re seeing,” Glenn Lurie, president and CEO of AT&T’s Mobility and Consumer Operations, toldFierceWireless on the sidelines of the CTIA Super Mobility trade show here last week. “And I think that comfort level is part of the reason why we just launched TV everywhere [through AT&T’s updated DirecTV video app]. So right now we feel great about our network.”
Lurie explained that AT&T’s John Donovan and the company’s network team have been using a wide variety of techniques and technologies, including network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN), to ensure AT&T’s network can handle the increased load from its unlimited data offerings. AT&T earlier this year revived its unlimited data service, but only for those customers who also subscribe to its DirecTV pay-TV service, and now counts more than 5 million users of that service. And earlier this month the carrier also launched “Data Free TV” as part of an update to its DirecTV app, which exempts the cost of any data generated by video streams in the app for AT&T customers who are watching video on the operator’s wireless network.
“This is about our best customers,” Lurie added. “Our customers vote with their wallets around video and mobility coming together, and we’re seeing it. And it’s working incredibly well.”
Others appear to agree with Lurie’s assessment of AT&T’s network. “We believe AT&T is well-positioned to meet future demands, with a robust spectrum portfolio, well-paced small cell deployments, and technology developments that will further reduce network strain,” the analysts at Jefferies wrote in a recent research note on AT&T.