AT&T's CEO touts a wireless future

During NXTcomm keynote, Randall Stephenson launches wireless service for sharing live video, opines on iPhone frenzy.

CHICAGO--The new AT&T is all about wireless and mobility, the company's CEO said Tuesday during his first major keynote address since taking the helm earlier this month.

During his speech at the NXTcomm trade show here on Tuesday, Randall Stephenson launched AT&T Video Share, a service that allows users to send live video feeds to friends or family while they're having a conversation. Stephenson also talked about plans for the much-hyped launch of Apple's iPhone, which will be sold exclusively for AT&T's network.

The new service and phone, which combine the functionality of an iPod music player and a smart phone with e-mail and other multimedia capabilities, are part of AT&T's strategy to focus on wireless and mobility. The company, which now owns the largest wireline and wireless network in the U.S., believes that mobility will be the key service that entices new customers, keeps them with AT&T and drives growth in new services .

"Without question, wireless is the link to all the major trends in the industry today," Stephenson said. "The most important networking purchase a household makes is about their wireless service. And it makes sense, it's the one device you take with you whereever you go."

Stephenson said an important element of the company's strategy is having products that customers can't wait to get their hands on. The iPhone certainly fits that bill. iPhone mania has reached a fever pitch , with customers flooding Apple and AT&T retail locations with questions about how they can get their hands on the device when it hits store shelves on June 29.

Excitement around the new iPhone is driving new business for AT&T, Stephenson said. Of the more than 1 million people who have already expressed interest in the iPhone through AT&T's Web site, roughly 40 percent are not AT&T subscribers, he said.

"That speaks volumes to us, and it should speak volumes to the industry," he said. "I really believe the iPhone will be a game changer. Not just for us but for the industry at large."

The new Video Share service is an example of how AT&T plans to extend services it has developed for the mobile world to its other platforms. While Video Share today is a service that allows mobile subscribers to share live video via their cell phones, Stephenson said that the live video experience eventually will be available on PCs and TVs.

Video Share works over AT&T's 3G, or third-generation, wireless network and will initially be available in Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas. The company has plans to extend it to 160 markets starting in late July.

AT&T will charge subscribers $4.99 a month for 25 minutes of video share use, or $9.99 a month for 60 minutes, the company said. It will also offer a "pay as you go" option for 35 cents a minute.

 

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