TIA: AT&T Boss Predicts Wireless Chaos
His call to action was for the vendors and carriers in attendance to advocate for the release of more spectrum -- and to support AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile US Inc. too.
Stephenson outlined the wireless industry's history of mobilizing everything -- starting with voice, email and more recently Internet access. But, he said, the industry is on the cusp of something that's very different from what it has experienced in the last few years: complete and utter chaos!
"Mark my words, the next five years are not going to be planned or deliberate," Stephenson said. "They will be characterized by chaos."
Mobilizing voice, email and Internet were deliberate efforts, but nothing will be as planned out with Long Term Evolution (LTE), he warned. New applications and development will come faster than ever, and mobile volumes will go up eight to 10 times from where the industry is today. If that's right, by Feb. 15, 2015, AT&T will have carried as much traffic on its network as it did for the full year of 2010, he said.
The carrier's goal is to create a network that can control this chaos in a secure and reliable way. Stephenson called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to release more spectrum sooner and create tax policies that incentivize investment. But, he said, it's not going to happen fast enough.
Hence, AT&T's stated impetus for acquiring T-Mobile.
The AT&T chief reiterated that the merger is necessary for it to create more spectrum out of existing spectrum and eke out more capacity from what it already owns, as well as to bring high-speed broadband to rural America. He stressed that the merger would allow AT&T to deploy LTE across 97 percent of the U.S., giving 55 million people access to broadband.
"It's a powerful economic catalyst," he said.
Upon approval of the acquisition, Stephenson also committed AT&T to allocating an additional $8 billion to building out its LTE footprint.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile