You would think that all those iPhone-to-Verizon rumors would keep AT&T up late at night but its wireless head doesn’t seem too concerned. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega reportedly laughed at the notion and didn’t seem too fazed about a mass exodus of subscribers.
During a J.P. Morgan conference Wednesday, AT&T’s wireless head didn’t say much about the length of its exclusivity deal but pointed to a variety of reasons why customers will stick with the second-largest carrier. According to The Wall Street Journal:
He says about 80% of AT&T’s customers are on family-talk plans or business-discount plans, which are very “sticky.” Customers are reluctant to move away from those plans, so even if the iPhone is available elsewhere, AT&T believes it can hold on to those users.
Additionally, he touted the company’s mobile data network. This may seem laughable to long-suffering iPhone users in major cities but there are signs that the company’s 3G network is getting better. The carrier head also said that the media focusing on subscriber growth isn’t the best way to gauge carriers because of the growth in mobile data.
The company is looking at a variety of prepaid data models like it has with Apple’s 3G version of the iPad. Customers can sign up 250 MB of data for $15 a month or unlimited data for $30 and both come without contracts. It’s not just phones and computers, as we’ve seen AT&T play around with a variety of connected devices like a dog collar or even a medicine bottle.
He makes some good points about the discounts and family plans but AT&T is going to have to do a lot better than that if it wants to stop customers from leaving. Verizon’s CEO has said he wants the iPhone and there is clearly demand from Verizon users. If AT&T had some stones they would simply say that once the onslaught of data-hungry iPhone users hit Verizon, Big Red’s network will take a huge hit.
[Via Wall Street Journal]