AT&T's Data Traffic Soars, Puts Pressure on Network

By Josh Long Comments

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AT&T is continuing to invest big bucks to keep up with incredible demand on its wireless network.

Over the last five years, wireless data traffic on AT&T's network has soared 20,000 percent, according to John Donovan, senior executive vice president, AT&T technology and network operations. In a blog, he said such traffic has been doubling every year since 2007.

"The growth is now driven primarily by smartphones," Donovan wrote. "Add to that new customer additions and the continuing trend of upgrades from feature phones to smartphones, and you have a wireless data tsunami."

Partially in respond to that tsunami, AT&T anticipates investing $20 billion this year. AT&T will focus on wireless investments, Donovan said, "including more 4G LTE deployment, the rollout of distributed antenna systems in key venues across the U.S. and adding even more AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots to the nation's largest Wi-Fi network."

AT&T, the second-largest wireless operator, is continuing to grow its subscriber base — and that's adding pressure on its network, particularly as more customers purchase smartphones that are capable of doing such things as streaming movies and sharing files. In the fourth quarter, AT&T added 2.5 million wireless customers to end the calendar year with 103.2 million in service, including 69.3 million postpaid subscribers.

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