AT&T sees 30% increase in traffic in past 3 years

In a blog touting the company’s 5G network and progress in moving to standalone (SA) 5G, AT&T Network President Chris Sambar said AT&T has never seen so much traffic – and it’s ready to handle even more.

“Many of the newest mobile devices are ready for 5G standalone, and we continue to move thousands of customers every day,” Sambar wrote.

AT&T recently launched AT&T Internet Air home fixed wireless service, and from the start, that product rides on standalone 5G for customers in areas where that’s available. If they’re not in a 5G area, it will run on LTE. It also can connect using a mix of 5G and LTE.  

Sambar said that in the not-too-distant future, 5G connected cars will ride on AT&T’s standalone 5G.

Traffic impact

It's interesting that Sambar’s blog came one day before Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 15, if for no other reason than the first iPhone – a GSM-based device – debuted exclusively on AT&T’s network in 2007. As that phone gained in popularity and users really used it, the device drained AT&T’s network capacity and the carrier had to scramble to beef up its 3G network.

That was 16 years ago and now it’s a 5G world. AT&T reports that over the last three years, its network has seen an annual 30% increase in traffic. That’s a direct result of “the pace of innovation and the changing needs of how people integrate technology into their everyday life,” Sambar wrote. “Our network is the new killer app and it’s paving the way for what’s next.”

With 5G SA come the real advancements that 5G brings, such as network slicing. Sambar talked about those types of services, saying that, for example, AT&T could offer unique network capabilities that provide specialized high-bandwidth access for doctor and healthcare professionals as they transmit medical imaging files or patient records in hospitals.

They can also enable low-latency connections for data-heavy entertainment applications like cloud gaming or safety-critical applications in autonomous vehicles and advanced robotics, he said.

“We’re building our network differently than our competitors as we continue to innovate and expand connectivity. We’re not stopping anytime soon – 5G, fiber, and satellite are all a part of the killer app as well,” Sambar said.

AT&T’s mid-band 5G spectrum, including C-band, now covers more than 175 million people and it continues to build more fiber. On the satellite front, AT&T is collaborating with AST SpaceMobile to someday provide satellite service directly to smartphones using AST’s low-earth orbit satellite technology and AT&T’s spectrum.