Exclusive: AT&T plans mobile phones are ad-supported

(Reuters) – AT&T CEO John Stankey said in an interview on Tuesday that AT&T is considering introducing wireless phone plans partially supported through ads as soon as possible in a year from now.

This previously undisclosed consideration confirms AT & T’s commitment to advertising business as the US telephone company reviews its portfolio to determine which assets to sell in order to reduce the debt burden. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that AT&T is considering selling its Xandr ad technology unit.

“I think there is a segment of our customer base where if there was a choice, they would take some ads to cut $ 5 or $ 10 in their mobile phone bill,” said Stankey.

Several 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 hopes that better targeting of ads will fuel the idea.

Stankey said the planned launch of an ad-supported version of AT & T’s HBO Max video streaming service next year would be a “staple” that would provide new ad inventory, and would be a key to new ad-supported phone plans, without providing a detail offer.

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

Stankey said AT&T engineers create “unified identifiers for clients.” This technology will allow marketers to identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant ads.

He said the ability to adjust ad targeting would allow AT&T to sell ads at higher rates.

AT&T invested in developing targeted ads on its media properties using data from phone, television and internet customers, but the company was “slower to break the curve” in expanding its market that allows advertisers to use AT&T data to target others, Stankey said, the audience of media companies.

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In March, AT&T’s Xandr struck a deal to partner with Walt Disney Co and AMC Networks to allow advertisers to purchase TV ads over the networks.

The AT&T advertising market, which includes data from outside of AT&T, may face privacy challenges as consumers express growing concern about tracking their media use across platforms, and laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act have been passed.

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

Stankey, who last week wrote an editorial for Politico stating that the US government should provide subsidies to encourage companies to build fiber-optic broadband networks in underserved areas, said in an interview with Reuters that AT&T believes it can double its fiber footprint if it is It has an economic incentive.

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

AT&T fibers currently exceed 18 million homes in the United States. He added that the company could increase that number from 3 to 5 million homes annually.

(Report Sheila Dang in Dallas); Helen Koster, Crystal Hu and Kenneth Lee in New York; Edited by Cynthia Osterman

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