connected-deviceWith U.S. mobile subscribership reaching a saturation point, wireless carriers are rethinking what their focus should be, as comments from AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega at the Wells Fargo Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today illustrate.

“We are positioning the business to grow in three key areas,” said de la Vega. Those three areas, he said, are machine-to-machine (m2m), the connected car and Digital Life, the company’s home security and control offering.

On the m2m side, de la Vega said the company has been adding more connected devices to its wireless network than any other carrier. Key AT&T m2m wins included GE and Delta, he said.

The company also has had key wins involving the connected car – including GM, Ford, Sirius and Audiovox, he noted. De la Vega pointed to the global SIM card that AT&T includes in its connected car offering as a key advantage because it can work anywhere in the world.

The connected car involves not only safety and security capabilities for the “front seat;” it also includes “back seat” infotainment capabilities, he said. AT&T 4G LTE will begin appearing in 2015 model cars that will be delivered in 2014, he noted.

AT&T designed its Digital Life home security and control offering to require a smartphone and a tablet, de la Vega said. Although he didn’t mention it, the company’s offering also is designed to use a cellular connection between the home system and AT&T’s central monitoring station. Digital Life, de la Vega noted, is now available in 58 markets.

Other highlights of de la Vega’s session at today’s conference include:

  • 42% of the company’s subscriber base has LTE-capable handsets which immediately switch to LTE when that service is turned up
  • As a result, traffic on the company’s HSPA+ network is declining – and performance on the network is improving
  • More than 95% of AT&T Mobility’s data traffic now rides on advanced backhaul facilities based on Ethernet
  • The company has put its 700 MHz B-block spectrum into service
  • The company has seen 18% growth in mobile data revenues over the past year
  • 22% of customers are on a high-rate data plan, up from 9% a year ago
  • Churn is down one basis point from last year – a feat de la Vega attributes to pricing plans such as FamilyTalk