Exclusive: AT&T is considering a mobile phone plan that is subsidized by advertising.

(Reuters)-AT&T Inc is considering offering a wireless phone plan that is partially subsidized through advertising a year from now, chief executive John Stankey said in an interview on Tuesday.

This previously undisclosed consideration highlights AT&T’s commitment to the advertising business as U.S. phone operators review their portfolios to identify assets to sell to reduce their debt burden. AT&T is considering the sale of Xandr, its advertising technology division, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Stankey said, “I think there is a customer base that can get some ads with you by reducing your mobile bill by $5 or $10 given the option.”

Various companies, including Amazon.com Inc, Virgin Mobile USA, and Sprint’s Boost Mobile, have tested ads for supported phone services since the early 2000s, but haven’t caught up. AT&T hopes that better ad targeting can bring the idea back to life.

Next year, the planned launch of an ad-supported version of AT&T’s video streaming service HBO Max will serve as a “foundation element” to provide new ad inventory, Stankey said, and will be at the heart of the new phone plan supported by ads. Details.

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

AT&T engineers are creating “unified customer identifiers,” Stankey said. These technologies allow marketers to identify users and deliver relevant advertisements across multiple devices.

The ability to fine-tune ad targeting will enable AT&T to sell ads at a higher price, he said.

Although AT&T has invested in developing targeted advertising on its own media properties using data from mobile phones, TV and Internet customers, it has said about market expansion that allows advertisers to use AT&T data to target other customers. Developed more slowly.” It’s an audience of media companies, Stankey said.

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In March, AT&T’s Xandr partnered with Walt Disney Co and AMC Networks to sign an agreement to allow advertisers to purchase TV commercials over the network.

AT&T’s advertising market, incorporating data outside of AT&T, is a privacy issue as consumers have expressed concerns about tracking media usage across platforms and laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. Can face.

Stankey refers to the use of data not owned by AT&T, saying, “I don’t know if I can trust it forever.

Stankey, who wrote an article last week at Politico, stating that the U.S. government should provide subsidies to encourage companies to build fiber-optic broadband networks in low-service areas, Stankey believes AT&T believes fiber footprint could double. I said in an interview. Economic incentives.

Fiber optics, or fiber optics, are thin cables that are installed underground so that companies can provide Internet services to their homes. AT&T uses fiber optics to provide internet to homes and businesses and power 5G networks.

AT&T’s fiber optics are currently passing 18 million households in the United States. The company added that it could increase that number from 3 million to 5 million households per year.

Sheila Dang’s report in Dallas; Helen Coster, Krystal Hu, and Kenneth Li of New York; Cynthia Osterman compilation

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