It might sound like alphabet soup, but AT&T is using things like network functions virtualization (NFV), and software-defined networking (SDN) to make sure that its network can handle the increasing traffic. And analysts at securities house Jefferies say that even before it participates in the current FCC 600MHz auction, the carrier has enough airwaves to increase its LTE capacity by 50% in the coming years. Some of the increase comes from the refarming of 2G/3G spectrum.
AT&T currently owns 140MHz of spectrum and uses just 100MHz of it at present. The analysts at Jefferies say that AT&T can also use some of the tricks that other wireless operators are using in order to get the most from its network. That includes widening channels and increasing traffic content by using carrier aggregation. MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) is another such tool that is employed to increase the number of signals being sent and received over the same radio channel. Consider it a way for carriers to carry more data without having to build out expensive new cell towers.