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D7 – ATT CEO / President Interview May 27, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in D7 All Things Digital.
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randall-stephensonAT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: “Wireless Is the #1 Priority”

So what about that network of yours?

Seems like from polling that people bought the iPhone because they like the device and not because of the network (and in fact for some in spite of the network).

The smart phone market will drive data usage in the mobile networks.  Moving beyond voice.  The iPhone customer is a high-value customer.  Pricing models will change over time.  Today the iPhone customer is a 100/month plus customer – a valued customer.

AT&T margins are 40% on the wireless business.  Business is doing well.

When you go to buy a handset – features of the device vs quality of the carrier?
ATT – people buy the iPhone in spite of ATT network (not because of it).

iPhone poll of the audience – people like the iPhone but want better network coverage – CEO says that the data volumes required for devices like the iPhone are changing the network management landacape for carriers – ATT is ahead (a year ahead) on building out a more managable and robust network infrastructure to address the data requirements for the mobile user.

LTE – 4G Networks (going beyond the 3G performance of the iPhone) – HSPA 7.2 (speeds up to 7 Meg)

More than doubling the theoretical speed of the network.

Lots of deployment issues – long pole in the tent – getting the bandwidth to the cell site (the fiber cables etc. – “pick and shovel stuff”)

38% of traffic on wifi hotspots is from cell phones.

Automatic authentication across multiple domains – the goal of ATT as a cross-domain service provider (WAN to WiFi to Wired to corporate to whatever…)

Pair-bonding – to increase the bandwidth from point to point. – goal of 40-50 meg performance direct into the home.

WIreless is the priority of AT&T – mobilize the apps and services is the focus of the industry.

Hand-held computers is what these new devices like the iPhone are.  They are way more than phones.  Apps being downloaded by the billions.

Are there too many platforms emerging within this mobile market?

Palm, Blackberry, Gphone, iPhone, etc…

Don’t expect to see fewer devices in the near term – still a lot of innovation out there and that is a battle for who will be the standard.

Can the “carrier” (AT&T) facilitate app development that is cross-platform – Yes a middleware solution – there are developers working on “conversion” solutions to move applications across multiple platforms.

Companies like Google with products like the Android are asserting themselves  – this is exciting – to the extent that you can facilitate this growth – to make sure that you can control the customer experience and quality (a balancing act).

A PC business / ISP business is the direction that Apple is taking with the iPhone – not a “come to this carrier and get one of our special phones”…

Will AT&T go to a business model where they are more focused on “running networks” instead of operating retail stores?  —  The Amazon Kindle “e-reader” shows how things need to be a “mix” – how to provide services and the retail side of that service.  –  ATT always needs to have a part in the retail experience.