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AT&T Paves the Wireless Future's Way

By Jeff Kagan
Nov 13, 2014 7:04 AM PT

AT&T shared plenty of powerful information and insights about growth for the company and the industry in general at last week's industry analyst meeting. The wireless, telecom, television and Internet businesses will continue to grow and to change in 2015 and beyond.

AT&T Paves the Wireless Future's Way

Whether you are a customer, a worker, an investor or a partner, understanding the growth and change of the industry or industry segments is key to success.

AT&T -- in fact, every competitor in this space -- must be evaluated differently moving forward. Things are changing. Then again, things are always changing. The opportunities of the 90s were different from those of the 2000s, which are different from those of today.

Looking back, we evaluated AT&T and other providers on their own performance, period.

However, looking forward, we must pull the lense back and take a much wider and deeper view. Growth will continue, but not in the same way. However, its potential is much stronger than before.

In With the Old, In With the New

AT&T will continue to offer the same services, but it and the entire industry will expand into exciting new areas as well.

AT&T will play a key role in transforming other industries. That is just one of the key areas of growth going forward.

AT&T is a major player in the communications marketplace. It started out on the telephone side and has expanded to take a leadership position in a variety of industry segments, like wireless, Internet and television. Its IPTV service, called "Uverse," successfully competes with the cable television industry.

While growth going forward will include offering services to consumers, companies and governments, there are several new growth spaces AT&T is rapidly moving into.

Wireless networks, like AT&T Mobility, seem to be at the core of many new and emerging growth opportunities. However, the wire line, Internet and television sides also will power growth in different areas.

The wireless industry has transformed itself in the last decade. Smartphones are now a key growth engine going forward. Now many different industries will transform themselves and integrate wireless into their ways of doing business. It already has begun.

Industries like automotive, healthcare, retail, software, banking and more are modernizing, and they all require wireless networks to connect to customers using smartphones.

Brand new and exciting services like Apple Pay and the upcoming CurrentC, which could reinvent how we pay for things, require a smartphone and wireless network.

AT&T is continuing to expand its vision. It wants to acquire DirecTV and deliver satellite television service on a nationwide scale.

AT&T last week announced it was going to acquire Mexican wireless carrier Iusacell as part of its plan to expand internationally.

AT&T is positioning itself for growth going forward. That growth may look different from the traditional wireless growth of the past decade. However, it will be the same, in many respects, since the company will continue to offer wireless and wire line services, Internet and television -- both with its existing Uverse and new services that could come through ownership of DirecTV and Iusacell, with its very fast GigaPower Internet service.

Not Just for Phones Any More

AT&T calls itself the most reliable 4G LTE wireless network in the U.S. It currently claims to provide coverage for more than 300 million people with its LTE. It launched VoLTE and HD Voice in May 2014, which offers excellent quality and is expanding. It has nearly 20 million connected devices in service today.

AT&T GigaPower, a 100 percent fiber connection, provides super fast speeds of up to 1 Gbps to home networks.

It currently is operational and available in three Texas markets -- Austin, Dallas and Ft. Worth. AT&T has announced plans to expand to an additional 14 markets and is exploring even more.

At its analyst meeting, AT&T shared an aggressive growth plan for years to come. Real growth will come from new areas, like the few I have mentioned.

These are exciting areas, but we are still in the very early stages of this changing game. Just like the growth from the smartphone explosion over the last several years, these new areas of growth are going to be just as important in reshaping industries.

Companies like AT&T, with its wireless and wire line networks, are going to be at the core of making change happen. AT&T used to be just a phone company. Today it's in a variety of new businesses, and tomorrow it will continue the expansion story.

AT&T is positioning itself in a variety of different categories including software, cloud, mobile, video, the Internet of Things, and what it calls the "Oil of the Internet," or big data.

These are all new areas of growth that could serve as great barometers for the future growth of AT&T and the industry in general, as we look toward tomorrow.


E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a technology industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.


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