The New AT&T's New CEO

After only two weeks on the job, the new CEO presents his vision for AT&T's return to its former glory.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jun 19, 2007
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CHICAGO -- The new AT&T has a new CEO, and he's raring to go with a plan to put the company on top. A new mobile video service will help the cause, and the much-anticipated iPhone won't hurt, either.

Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, presented his vision for the new AT&T during a morning keynote at the NXTcomm conference here.

"I'm not the usually guy that opens for AT&T; I've only been on the job since June 3," Stephenson told the thousands of people that packed the session. "It's a new day at AT&T and for the industry in general. The currents of change are altering what it means to be a communications company today."

Randall Stephenson
Randall Stephenson
Source: AT&T

Stephenson noted that it's the migration from fixed to mobile services that is accelerating network transformation. It's mobility that's empowered by IP.

"Whatever it is, with IP we can move it to any device out there and that's mobility," Stephenson said.

At the core of mobility and its opportunities today is entertainment, which needs to be part of the overall package. Otherwise Stephenson suspects they won't be able to get into the front door with the consumer.

"It's a customer's world and we just happen to be living in it," Stephenson said. "The customer calls the shots of what they want to watch and where. That ratchets up the complexity of serving customers."

In line with the company's customer vision, Stephenson announced AT&T Video Share, a subscription service that allows users to share live video over their wireless devices while on a call.

Either caller can initiate a video stream, at which point both users can see the video. Available now in Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio, Video Share will expand later this summer throughout the company's 3G wireless network, which reaches 160 markets. Packages run $4.99 a month for 25 minutes of Video Share usage, or $9.99 a month for 60 minutes of usage. And of course, users will need Video Share-enabled devices.

Speaking of devices, AT&T may well have the killer device of the decade -- the iPhone.

"There are a lot of good reasons to be excited about the iPhone, as it is the embodiment of innovation and it will only be available with AT&T," Stephenson said. "We believe it will be a game changer for the industry."

Stephenson noted that AT&T is working overtime to make sure that iPhone users will have the best network experience on day one.

AT&T is also going to be focusing on IPTV in a very strong way. Stephenson's stated goal is for AT&T to have more HD channels than anyone else and to have the largest video footprint in the U.S.

The regulatory framework will have a lot to do with how successful AT&T is with video. Stephenson urged that states and the federal government should move to open up for greater competition in video franchise rights.

"The future belongs to those who can first anticipate and then seize opportunity," Stephenson said. "We believe the new AT&T is there."

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