AT&T hopes Turbo can boost its service revenue

US telco AT&T has launched a speed-boosting value-added service in an effort to squeeze more revenue out of connectivity.

Nick Wood

May 3, 2024

3 Min Read

It's called Turbo, and for $7 per line, per month, customers can use it to make their mobile connection quicker and more responsive.

Pitched at avid gamers and video callers, customers can sign up to Turbo via their myATT app or through the website. If they change their mind or decide they have no need for Turbo in the month that follows, they can simply switch it back off again.

According to The Mobile Report, the service is underpinned by quality of service (QoS) class identifiers (QCI), which help the network determine which users have priority access. When a customer signs up to AT&T Turbo, the solution tweaks their QCI so that the network deems them more important, resulting in a faster, more stable connection.

It's worth pointing out that AT&T said Turbo is not available across its entire network. Presumably it can only offer it in areas where it has sufficient capacity, otherwise it'll have to deal with disgruntled customers who experience no difference between Turbo 5G and the regular kind.

AT&T was also at pains to point out that Turbo has no bearing on its compliance with the recently reinstated net neutrality rules, which specifically forbid operators from discriminating against – or prioritising – traffic originating from different online services.

"Consistent with open Internet principles, once turned on the boost applies to a customer's data regardless of the Internet content, applications, and services being used," the telco said.

The launch of Turbo is in line with the industry's collective – and let's face it, fairly desperate – effort to spin up new revenue streams from 5G.

Having promised end users a mobile technology that can support a vast and exciting array of new use cases, the slow rollout of the requisite 5G standalone networks to enable these new experiences means that the best the industry has managed thus far is enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB).

Under the circumstances then, Turbo is a fairly savvy interim measure, and while its success is not guaranteed, there is some evidence to suggest there is a market for it.

According to an Ericsson ConsumerLab survey, 20% of 5G smartphone users are interested in tiered network quality and are prepared to pay a premium of up to 11% in order to get it.

"We know customers want more control of their experience, especially while on the go, and AT&T Turbo answers that call by putting it all at our customers' fingertips," said Erin Scarborough, SVP of consumer product for AT&T. "Today is only the beginning of how AT&T plans to enhance the customer experience through our network and we look forward to evolving the possibilities of AT&T Turbo in the future."

It will be interesting to see what else the telco can come up with, particularly once its 5G SA network has been widely deployed. For instance, if and when AT&T rolls out slicing, customers might one day have the option to avail themselves of a faster, lower latency connection at the exact time they need it, rather than on a rolling monthly basis.

And while $7 per month for a service with niche appeal is unlikely to bring in a whole heap of cash, it is nonetheless a move in the right direction when it comes to deriving more value from connectivity services.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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