Just a Glimpse Into Our
Wireless Broadband Future

Posted by: Joan Marsh on February 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Yesterday, Kevin Fitchard over at GigaOm wrote a blog post on my Super Bowl post, in which I highlight some spectrum lessons from the big game.  While he acknowledges that we need more spectrum in a tweet, I want to focus on a couple of points in his blog post with which I disagree.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading his take, and appreciate his time.

First, he concludes that it’s “strange” for AT&T to use a one-off event like the Super Bowl to make a point about the need for more spectrum, asserting that this is exactly the type of scenario where more spectrum wouldn’t help.  That’s not correct.  As I note in my blog, one of the core network enhancements AT&T made to prepare for the Super Bowl was to add more UMTS carriers to its existing cell tower infrastructure. You can only add additional carriers if you have spectrum free to support them (a minimum of 10 MHz for a UMTS carrier).  In many areas, AT&T is close to exhausting spectrum available to add additional carriers and thus will no longer have that tool available to it to increase local capacity.

Setting that aside, there’s a broader point that I was trying to make. Customer usage at a big one-time event is simply a window into the average data usage profile of tomorrow.  Five years ago, carriers did not worry about supporting massive video uploads at Super Bowl-like events because video (upload and download) simply wasn’t part of the customer wireless experience.  That has now dramatically changed and the gigabytes being driven in Lucas Oil Stadium demonstrate that.  In its most recent traffic study, Ericcson predicted that by 2016 the number of high-traffic smartphones will increase more than 5 times and generated traffic will grow around 12 times.  Tablet subscriptions will grow 10 times and associated generated traffic will increase about 40 times.  Those increases will be driven predominantly by video.  The Super Bowl numbers simply give us a glimpse into that video-centric wireless broadband future.

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Lessons from the Super Bowl

Posted by: Joan Marsh on February 8, 2012 at 10:04 am

The Super Bowl.  There are many ways to calculate the scope and impact of the big game – both on and off the gridiron.  Here are just a few:

  • $15,343:  the highest price for a ticket to the big game as offered on the NFL’s website;
  • 11 million:  number of pizza slices Domino’s Pizza expected to sell Sunday;
  • $10.8 billion:  amount spent on beer for the game

But the numbers most important to us were the record-breaking numbers being generated by our customers in the stands.  From our very own John Donovan, AT&T’s senior executive vice president – technology and network operations, here are the numbers that we count: 

  • 215:  total data usage in GBs in Lucas Oil Stadium – the highest data usage we’ve ever seen from a single sporting event;
  • 74,204:  the number of calls our customers made on game day; and
  • 722,296:  the number of text messages sent and received.

These numbers are incredible and they tell the story of mobile devices and how integral they’ve become to our lives, our experiences and the way we communicate.  And one fact really stands out – our customers at the game created and uploaded more content than they consumed.  In fact, they uploaded nearly 40 percent more data than they downloaded – posting videos, pictures and messages for family and friends not lucky enough to join them in the stands.

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Spectrum Auctions and
Lessons Learned

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm

As reported in today’s Communications Daily, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt concedes Commission mistakes in the spectrum auction that involved NextWave, yet he is still pushing for FCC discretion in future spectrum auctions.  The following may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs:

“As Reed admits, Congress gave the FCC discretion in the PCS C Block auction, and it used that discretion in a way that resulted in an auction that was a disaster for the industry and for the Treasury.  And the flaw, in our view, was not simply a function of installment payments.  It was the decision to have a closed versus an open auction.  Our point is that an auction should be open to all competitors, not just to those hand picked by the FCC.  Reed was a good and diligent chairman, and it’s characteristic of him that he’d acknowledge a mistake.  But Congress has every right to learn from those mistakes, and to insist the FCC not repeat them.  That’s what the House spectrum bill does.  The FCC should get behind it and put the interests of the country first so that we can quickly move forward to address the looming spectrum crisis that we all agree is the biggest threat to innovation, job creation and growth for the wireless industry.”

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AT&T Response to Former FCC Chair’s
Remarks on Spectrum Auctions

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, responds to comments made by former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt regarding spectrum auctions:

“Despite Reed Hundt’s recollection, the FCC’s track record on auctions is not an unbroken string of successes.  In fact, Hundt’s tenure saw perhaps the biggest single fiasco of this sort, the PCS C Block auction.  In that situation, the FCC used its discretion in a way that set aside valuable spectrum for ‘designated entities’, and excluded otherwise qualified companies from bidding.  Over half of the 493 licenses from that auction were later returned to the government for non-payment, and the licenses of the largest winner, NextWave, were tied up in bankruptcy litigation for years.  In that case, the FCC’s use of its ‘discretion’ ended up costing the U.S. Treasury billions, and left vitally needed spectrum unused for years.   

“No one is suggesting the FCC’s conduct of auctions be micro-managed.  But Congress – not the FCC – sets policy, especially when it directly impacts revenue needed for deficit reduction.  And there is no more fundamental policy point than whether a spectrum auction should be open or closed.  Congress has every right to tell the FCC it should not be picking winners and losers in the wireless market, or using its ‘discretion’ to tilt the playing field. We need open auctions where every competitor has a fair chance to participate, and that is what the House bill provides.”

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The Value of Universal Design

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on December 9, 2011 at 11:05 am

By Len Cali, AT&T Senior Vice President of Global Public Policy 

Did you know that one quarter of the U.S. population consists of people who are elderly, have a disability, or both?  And 30% of households in this country have a family member with a disability.  With our aging population, roughly 10,000 people turn 65 every day.  And this trend is expected to continue for the next two decades.  Think about that.  This is a significant number of Americans whose appetite for mobile broadband technologies is just as voracious as the rest of the population. 

This week, I had the privilege of delivering a keynote address at the M-Enabling Summit held here in Washington D.C.  This was the first industry event dedicated exclusively to exploring accessible and assistive mobile platforms to better serve seniors and persons with disabilities.  

Our philosophy at AT&T has always been to design products and services that benefit as many people as possible.  And our Universal Design policy provides our suppliers and internal stakeholders with a clear set of guidelines that enable us to bring accessible products and services to the marketplace.  

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