Exclusive: AT&T considers mobile phone plans subsidized by advertisements


(Reuters) – AT&T Inc plans to offer partially ad-subsidized wireless phone plans within a year, chief executive John Stankey said in an interview on Tuesday.

This consideration, which has not been disclosed before, underlines AT & T’s commitment to advertising business as the US phone operator examines its portfolio to identify assets for sale in order to reduce its leverage. AT&T is considering selling its Xandr ad technology unit, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“I believe there is a segment of our customer base where, if given a choice, they would take an advertising charge for a $ 5 or $ 10 reduction in their mobile bill,” Stankey said.

Various companies, including Amazon.com Inc, Virgin Mobile USA, and Sprint’s Boost Mobile, have been testing ad-supported phone services since the early 2000s, but they were unsuccessful. AT&T is hoping that better ad targeting could revive the idea.

The planned launch of an ad-supported version of AT&T HBO Max’s video streaming service next year will serve as a “foundational piece” that will provide new ad inventory and be the key to new phone plans being rolled out. charge by advertisements, said Stankey without offering. details.

Stankey said ad-supported phone plans could be introduced in “a year or two.”

AT&T engineers create “unified customer identifiers,” Stankey said. Such technology would allow marketers to identify users on multiple devices and serve them with relevant advertisements.

The ability to adjust ad targeting would allow AT&T to sell ads at higher rates, he said.

AT&T has invested in the development of targeted advertising on its own multimedia properties using data from its telephone, TV and Internet customers, but the company has been “slower up the curve” in expanding its business. market that allows advertisers to use AT&T data to target other media company audiences, Stankey said.

In March, AT & T’s Xandr entered into a partnership agreement with Walt Disney Co and AMC Networks to allow advertisers to purchase television commercials on the networks.

AT & T’s advertising market, which incorporates data outside of AT&T, could face privacy challenges as consumers express growing concern about tracking their media usage across platforms and laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act have been passed.

“I don’t know if we can count on it in perpetuity,” Stankey said, referring to the use of non-AT&T data.

Stankey, who wrote an op-ed for Politico last week stating that the U.S. government should provide grants to encourage companies to build fiber-based broadband networks in underserved areas, said in the Reuters interview that AT&T thinks it could double its fiber footprint if it had the economic incentive.

Fiber optics or fiber optics are thin cables often installed underground that allow businesses to provide Internet services to homes. AT&T uses fiber to provide the Internet to homes and businesses as well as to power its 5G network.

AT & T’s fiber currently travels through 18 million homes in the United States. The company could increase this number from 3 to 5 million households per year, he added.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Helen Coster, Krystal Hu and Kenneth Li in New York; Edited by Cynthia Osterman


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