You may not have heard of ad-supported phone plans before, but companies have experimented with them since the early 2000s. According to an interview with CEO John Stankey, AT&T is looking into such plans and could announce them in as soon as a year.
In the interview, Stankey stated, "I believe there's a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill." He further elaborated that AT&T's upcoming ad-supported version of HBO Max would act as a "foundational element" for new advertising content and would be a key part of ad-supported phone plans.
AT&T would be utilizing "unified customer identifiers," currently under development, that would allow ads to be targeted and sold at higher rates. Stankey did mention that there could be privacy challenges, though.
Stankey believes these ad-subsidized plans could launch "in a year or two" if green-lit. Given that this strategy didn't pan out for Amazon, Virgin Mobile, and Boost Mobile when they tried it out, it will be interesting to see how it fares under AT&T.