March 31, 2020 11:30 a.m. CT
New Mobile Traffic Patterns Emerging; Businesses Are Rapidly Adopting the New “Remote Work” Norm and Schools Are Implementing the “Learn from Home” Norm
As people are doing their best to self-isolate, AT&T’s network is keeping people connected. With many now at home, people have increased their reliance on broadband and voice, and are finding various ways to collaborate with their colleagues and customers, teachers and students.
And of course, people are also finding different ways to entertain themselves while at home. We’ve seen an uptick in kids, family and news viewership in recent weeks as well.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen new and vastly different mobility traffic patterns set in. In the last three weeks, here’s what we’ve seen on our mobile network alone:
- Voice calls: +33%
- Instant messaging: +63%
- Text messaging: +41%
- Emailing: -18%
- Web browsing: -5%
- Video: +4% (also accounts for over half of all mobility traffic)
And on the other hand, how businesses and schools are communicating has steadily increased the usage of conferencing tools, which are at an all-time high. Here’s what we’ve seen over the last few weeks:
- AT&T’s global audioconferencing solution: +200%
- Audio, web and videoconferencing tools: +400% more minutes
- Large-scale webcast events: +200%
And don’t overlook that latter point on large-scale webcast events. Many companies are now more reliant than ever in virtual town halls and events to communicate what’s taking place during this pandemic. And schools are using them to create virtual classrooms to educate their students.
Despite these dramatic shifts in traffic patterns, our network continues to perform well. We’ve invested billions of dollars in our software-defined network, and it has paid off. We’re able to respond rapidly to surges in traffic and help meet the quickly evolving needs of our customers. When we see stress, we are proactively augmenting where needed.
Through our journey to a software-defined network, we’ve built in AI capabilities to help us move to a 5G world. And some of those tools are helping us optimize our wireless network during this crisis.
For example, we’re actively using AI to:
- Reset our 4G and 5G cell sites: When cell site issues are detected, we have an automated process to collect data, analyze and reset the site. AI is also helping us conserve energy by “waking up” some cells more frequently as traffic increases, while others, such as in office parks and buildings that are less occupied now, go to sleep more.
- Detect customer equipment issues: AI is also helping us remotely troubleshoot and diagnose problems with customer equipment by identifying the cause or even proactively identifying a potential issue before it occurs.
- Avoid network traffic congestion: We’ve expedited deployments of new AI capabilities in certain markets that will allow us to balance the traffic load within a sector and across sectors to help avoid overloading specific cells and improve the experience.
And of course, we’re doing other things to support more people working and learning from home, such as adding additional spectrum (capacity) to cell sites to improve customers’ experience. This is a new world, and it seems to change daily. But one thing’s for sure: You can count on us.
FirstNet Communications Platform Celebrates Connecting First Responders for Two Years
The COVID-19 health crisis illustrates precisely why public safety fought for the creation of FirstNet, the only nationwide high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders. And as the nation continues to combat the spread of this disease, the FirstNet® communications platform – built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – is bringing advanced capabilities to first responders across the country.
#1: First responder public safety agencies on FirstNet can get premium FirstNet Ready™ smartphone devices for free for their agency-paid users to connect them to critical communications when and where they need it most. All they have to do is get a new FirstNet Mobile – Unlimited for Smartphone line of service or eligible upgrade with either a 2-year service agreement or a new AT&T Installment 30-month agreement and meet some other conditions.
#2: We’re delivering new capabilities to first responders. Developed from the ground up specifically for and with public safety officials, FirstNet Push-to-Talk (PTT) is the first-ever nationwide mission-critical standards-based push-to-talk solution to launch in the U.S. FirstNet PTT is designed to enable public safety officials to use their smartphones, feature phones and specialized ultra-rugged devices like they would use a two-way radio, with highly reliable, high-performance calling.
Read more about both here.
VitalTech and AT&T Business Offer Free Telehealth Services
In the past week, The president of the United States and the Department of Health and Human Services both strongly urged the use of telehealth as a preventive and proactive public health measure. Further, The Telehealth Government Funding Package for COVID-19 was just passed, which enabled through significant government funding the lifting of constraints on Medicare’s payments for telehealth so that beneficiaries can freely consult their doctors remotely, avoiding hospitals and physicians’ offices where they might risk exposure to the virus.
Today we announced a collaboration with VitalTech, a rapidly growing market leader in virtual care, telehealth and remote patient monitoring, to provide 60 days of free telehealth services through the VitalCare® platform.
This collaboration will allow AT&T and VitalTech to help deliver patient-centered care when and where they need it most. AT&T will bring highly secure connectivity and data analytics, while utilizing AT&T and VitalTech’s innovation capabilities to bring a reliable end-to-end Virtual Care solution to the industry. Read more about this collaboration here.
Increased Data and Phone Use Continues Monday
Overall, our network is performing very well during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our dedicated employees are working around the clock installing, maintaining and repairing our network so our customers can communicate with each other and stay connected to their world.
Performance for first responders on our FirstNet network has been excellent. Priority and preemption on public safety’s Band 14 spectrum is working and first responders are free of any commercial congestion. We are deploying portable assets to support public safety as well. We have deployed 26 times so far and currently have 13 portable cell sites deployed and operating to bolster coverage for our FirstNet customers. For example, we have ensured Band 14 coverage for the Naval ship Comfort in New York harbor and deployed a cell tower on wheels to support the Naval Ship Mercy in Los Angeles.
The shift from the pre-pandemic work from the office and learn in the classroom world to the current work and learn from home environment has caused a small amount of stress on our network, but we are adapting and adding capacity when and where needed to address the minimal congestion resulting from this shift. We have seen increases in traffic; for example, audio/video conferencing minutes of use have increased significantly from 6M on an average day to 16M one day last week.
Monday (March 30, 2020) Network Insights:
- Our core network traffic – which includes our business, home broadband and wireless usage – was up 24% yesterday compared to the same day last month.
- Wireless voice minutes of use were up 40% compared to an average Monday.
- Consumer home voice calling minutes of use were up 45% from an average Monday.
- Wi-Fi calling minutes of use were up 97% from an average Monday.
- We’ve seen a 46% increase in text messaging in the last two and a half weeks.
Check Out Our Latest Television Ad