Exclusive: AT&T considers subsidized cellphone plans through advertising

(Reuters) – AT&T Inc. T.N. Chief executive John Stankey said in an interview on Tuesday that a partial subsidy to wireless phone plans was being considered by advertising just a year from now.

The consideration, which has not been previously disclosed, underscores AT & T’s commitment to the advertising business as the U.S. phone carrier reviews its portfolio to identify assets to sell to reduce its debt burden. AT&T is considering selling its advertising-technology unit Xander, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“I believe there is a part of our customer base where the choice is given, they will take a little load of advertising for a $ 5 or 10d reduction in their mobile bill,” Stankey said.

Various companies, including Amazon.com Inc. AMZN.O, Virgin Mobile USA and Sprint’s Boost Mobile have been testing ad-supported phone services since the early 2000s but have not been able to catch up. AT&T hopes the goal of better advertising can revive the idea.

The planned launch of an ad-supported version of AT&T’s video-streaming service HBO Max next year will serve as a “foundation element” that will provide new advertising inventory, and will be the key to new phone plans supported by ads, Stankey said without offering. Details.

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

AT&T engineers are creating “unified customer identifiers,” Stankey said.

The ability to penalize ad targets will allow AT&T to sell ads at higher rates, he said.

AT&T has invested in developing targeted advertising on its own media properties using data from its phone, TV and Internet customers, but the company has been “slow to take a turn” on its marketplace expansion, allowing advertisers to use AT&T data to target others. Is. Audiences of media companies, Stanky said.

In March, AT & T’s Zender signed a deal to partner with Walt Disney Co. DIS.N. And AMC Networks AMCX.O. To allow advertisers to purchase TV commercials across the network.

AT&T’s Advertising Marketplace, which includes data from outside AT&T, may face privacy challenges, as consumers express growing concerns about tracking the use of media such as their platform and their laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act.

“I don’t know if we can calculate on a permanent basis,” Stankey said, referring to the use of non-AT and T-proprietary data.

Stankey, who wrote an op-ed for Politico last week that the U.S. government should provide subsidies to encourage companies to build fiber broadband networks in underworld areas, said in an interview with Royers that AT&T believes that if it doubles its fiber footprint. Can promote economic.

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

AT&T Fiber currently passes through 18 million homes in the United States. He added that the company could increase this number from 3 million to 5 million homes each year.

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