During this pandemic, you've gotten to know a lot of things much better.
Like every square inch of your home or apartment, and everything about everyone you live with and live with a lot more than you used to.
You've also got to know awfully familiar with your broadband connection wired, wireless, however you're using it in your home, you're using it a lot more, and you're using it for things that might challenge it more.
Can this new normal become normal?
The person who would know that for sure is Scott Mayer, who is the president of at&t technology and operations.
What are you guys seeing big picture on what you call your core network there at at&t.
When you think about the core network that's kind of the backbone that carries all the data.
All wireless as well as broadband and business uses.
The overall backbone is not seeing tremendous growth.
That's, you know, 19% is what we've seen in the last few weeks.
Okay, it's you know, it's pretty decent because there's a lot of traffic but it's traffic that's occurring in different places, versus, you know where the norm is right?
If you think about the distribution of traffic Business Centers are less traffic nowadays but it's showing up in residential and suburban areas where where we normally wouldn't see it.
So at an aggregate level, the the backbone is doing really well.
What are we doing more of you guys can see that on the network, right?
So it's really interesting facts and we've been publishing some of this daily just to see what's what's happening.
So voice calls are up anywhere from 30 to 40%, you know on the wireless network.
On any given day on Wireline Consumer Services, they're up maybe 60%, 50%.
So again, voice calling is really increased a lot.
You see text messaging services now increasing anywhere from 40 to 45% over the last three weeks And so that's an interesting trend unto itself and email, you would think email would be picking up but email we're seeing actually go down some.
It's down about 15 to 18% at this point in time from what we can see.
I think a lot of that's counterintuitive.
I think a lot of us were thinking everything is going toward video conferencing because that's what we're hearing about right now.
But it's interesting that you pointed out that a lot of us are falling back to, getting on the phone to make a call or texting someone.
Yeah, that's exactly what my interpretation would be, is the collaboration tools are picking up steam.
We'll talk about that here in a second.
But we're picking up the phone, we're using our technologies and and less on email and so the collaboration is actually.
Very interesting to watch when you see what's happening in the network.
So collaboration is our global teleconferencing traffic is up 200% in the last three weeks.
When you look at what I would call the work from home or collaboration or virtual learning tools It's up 400% in terms of minutes of use in the last two and half, three weeks.
So Scott as we look at what's going on in our particular homes.
If someone is having a program getting a particular, especially a video collaboration tool, Like we're on right now to work, where should they look?
They don't want to think about network architecture.
A lot of them.
Here's what I'm hearing.
I'm, they're rebooting their computer.
They're unplugging their modem that goes out to their ISP and plugging it back in.
They're doing a reset, or they're trying to turn off things on their network.
This is way down on the retail level, but what can you as an expert at all levels tell us is the right thing to do?
Yeah, so in terms of like rebooting a router in a home, I would not necessarily recommend that I don't think that's generally where the issue is going to be.
What I've been telling people is if you experience a problem, the best thing you can do just in terms of if you're setting up a meeting is do the following.
You could start at five minutes after the hour.
You could just adjust a little bit of time one way or the other because if you think about how business works, all those meetings get set up at the top of the hour of the bottom of the hour and everybody's coming in at the same time.
So just adjusting a little bit.
You're gonna if there is any congestion in the network, whatever network it is, You're likely going to avoid that.
You know, resetting a router typically is not going to solve a problem like that.
Does that drive you guys nuts when we go out and we reset our modems all the time?
Yeah, I've always subscribed to the fact that when electro Tronics are up and running and they stay up and running.
They have a really good life, the more you take power off and put power back on, it's probably not the best thing for electronics.
When we get to the other side of this crisis.
What is this going to do?
To change the complexion of how we look at 5G as a bunch of consumers.
Up until now, consumers have said, hey, 5G looks great, I'll think about it.
That's been the majority of people's opinions in most surveys.
They see it as a nice but not necessarily a necessary upgrade.
What do you think will change in terms of our appetite for better wireless mobile on the other side of this pandemic?
Yeah, so I think people are very much focused on the reliability of their connectivity.
No matter if it's wire line or wireless.
When you think about 5G, it will be more
Robust in terms of data speeds, it'll be more robust in terms of faster response times.
But for typical just video and that unless you're using it for real time, video type things, LTE networks are really, really robust.
But 5G is gonna get people think about what's possible with 5G.
We're all becoming really comfortable nowadays with these collaboration tools over the last three, four weeks.
And I think the connectivity that we all use will change, maybe become more wireless in many cases.
Where it makes sense, but, you know, five g's gonna give us use cases that we haven't thought of in the past.
And that's going to be the exciting part of five g.>> So for example, again on a on a video conference like this using a commonly available platform.
Looks good, but there's no fooling someone that you are sitting on a remote desk from where I am and we're going over the internet, it'll have that look, it'll have that sound.
It's not the same as if you're recording locally on a camera.
Do you think we can get to the point on networks throughout the stack?
And I know there's many layers where it will be indistinguishable to do this kind of video conference from whether I shot it on a camera or whether I did it over the network.
I absolutely believe that's possible.
When you look at some of the higher end video conferencing systems nowadays available on the market and with wide bandwidth pipes It really does look real time and you don't see that little lag and movements over that type of video.
And that's available that will be available with 5G when you consider speeds that can go 500 megabits a second, a gigabit per second, even know one or 200 megabits per second.
It will give you very near real time look and feel in terms of video and anything else you're doing.
What things are you doing personally to cope with the new way of work there you are sitting at your home in the Dallas area.
I'm here in the San Francisco area we've all had to adjust Couple of little tips and tricks that work for us whether they're tech or non tech.
I have been subscribing to that start time, just as a normal order.
Of course, because I run networks I understand peak loads, [LAUGH] maybe not for everybody.
The other thing is I have worked really hard to maintain a normal work habit.
I get up at the same time I follow the same process.
I don't have the commute that I had.
But I just follow a normal, regular routine and I find that to keep me in the rhythm of the way I like to operate, the way I like to run my life and that's been very helpful.
In terms of tips, I use audio wherever it's Works where I know the individuals on a call audio works really well.
Sometimes, video works much better.
So it depends on the nature of the meeting that I'm setting up and who might be involved with it.
What's coming in the future whether it's on 4G or 5G?
That will allow us to use those networks in a way that is more duplex right now we all since we've gotten used to it to be honest, but we sense that we need to not talk over each other because it's inelegant.
Is there anything in the networks now that we can take advantage over that's coming that would allow us to have more of a More of a simultaneous conversation like we used to have on the plain old telephone system or like we have face to face where we can do duplex and it doesn't inelegantly step on each party.
So the current Roadmaps for wireless maintain kind of an up and down difference.
But as you look at more and more capacity that can get built into networks, I have no doubt that full duplex and solutions that will take advantage of full duplex are gonna be possible.
It's really a matter of how you manage resources and how you manage How much traffic is incoming to me as a consumer versus how much I'm sending and that's really the way that wireless networks works where typically I'm sending out a lot less than I may be consuming in.
So that's why you see a kind of a different half duplex or a different speed down than you do up if you do any sort of speed test.
You'll see that.
So, it's not near term, but the technology and the bandwidth that's gonna be available in the future will take us there.
Thanks, Gad appreciate the insights from AT&T.
And for those of you who are interested in getting up to speed on how you should judge and purchase broadband for your home.
Which of course then typically becomes Wi Fi as well in your home.
Check out my colleague Rye Chris really excellent roundup of how to be a really smart ISP consumer from last April but it proves to be very useful right now.