AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson ‘very pleased with the Apple iPhone deal’

“Randall Stephenson is just two years into his tenure as CEO of AT&T but faces challenges that have been decades in the making. Among them: remaking AT&T amid the steady decline of its landline business, future-proofing its business as our appetites for bandwidth grow, competing with the likes of Comcastin the cable TV market and fending off the proponents of Net neutrality, who don’t care much for the idea of a two-tiered Internet,” John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD.

“Beyond this there is the issue of continuing to build out AT&T’s wireless business, which if not iPhone-dependent, is certainly nursing a hell of a habit. In its fourth-quarter AT&T added 2.1 million wireless subscribers. 1.9 million of them were iPhone accounts. 40 percent of those–about 760,000–were new to AT&T. Astonishing. But AT&T’s exclusive deal to peddle the Apple iPhone in the U.S. expires next year. The company is obviously eager for an extension,” Paczkowski reports. “But what is it willing to do to get it?”

At the D7 conference, host Walt Mossberg asked Stephenson if it was “worth it to sign the deal with Apple? How has it worked out? ‘It’s worked out terrific. We have no complaints.’ He notes that the company incurred dilution, but has benefitted by getting the premiere customer in the space — one with high data usage and low churn. ‘I’m very pleased with the deal,'” Paczkowski reports.

Walt asks if the company has suffered from the iPhone’s fixed data charges. It’s not a variable charge. How does that offset the dillution that AT&T has to pay? We made a bet, says Stephenson, that the industry was heading towards smartphones and that was a good bet. Now we’re seeing dramatic uptakes in usage, so pricing model must change. And it will change. The market will dictate that change more than anything else. But right now the economics of the iPhone are very good for us,” Paczkowski reports.

Read more in the full interview here.

MacDailyNews Take: He’s very pleased with the Apple iPhone deal. Randall;s obviously angling for “Understatement of the Year” honors.

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