Light Reading

Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
11/21/2005
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Chief technology officer Hossein Eslambolchi, who championed 's (NYSE: T) convergence strategy, will be departing as (NYSE: SBC) takes over.

A well-placed source tells Light Reading that Eslambolchi and five other executives will be following in the footsteps of former AT&T CEO David Dorman, who will leave after a brief transition period. But the source notes some old AT&T blood will remain in key technical roles. (See SBC Brass Dominates the New AT&T .)

The information is partially corroborated by a weekend report at news site NorthJersey.com, which cites an AT&T internal memo. AT&T officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

News of Eslambolchi's departure follows the announcement that SBC closed its acquisition of AT&T on Friday, putting the combined entity under the old AT&T name. (See New AT&T Launches.)

Most of the SBC-slanted executive roster was announced earlier, with SBC CEO Ed Whitaker taking the helm at the new AT&T. But the new company's CTO had not yet been determined, and Eslambolchi's name was conspicuously absent from the announcement. (See SBC Names AT&T Top Team.)

Two others notably omitted -- the former AT&T's president Bill Hannigan and chief financial officer Thomas Horton -- also plan to leave the company, the source said. Both men and Eslambolchi are eligible for severance packages of between $4 million to $6.5 million, according to an SEC filing made by SBC.

Other AT&T execs departing include: Kathleen Flaherty, AT&T's former chief marketing officer; John McCanuel, vice president of the old AT&T's OSS engineering; and John Polumbo, CEO of AT&T Classic Services. All are expected to stay at AT&T for a transition period.

Eslambolchi was in charge of AT&T's convergence program, pitched under the "Concept of One" tagline. The goal was to merge AT&T's disparate networks, funneling all traffic onto a single network core built on Internet Protocol (IP) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) -- an architecture most large carriers have embraced for their next-generation networks. (See AT&T Closer to 'One' With Itself.)

Eslambolchi's leadership role in network convergence earned him the top spot in Light Reading's Movers & Shakers list late in 2003, as well as a finalist nod as Industry Statesman, Public Company, in last year's Leading Lights awards. (See Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Telecom and Leading Lights Awards Finalists.) But rather than Eslambolchi, it's going to be John Stankey, CTO of SBC, who will retain that title under the new leadership, according to our source.

Chris Rice, another SBC alum, retains his title as executive vice president of network planning and engineering, says the source. Under his domain falls the task of merging the SBC and AT&T networks, which have used different sets of equipment. For example, AT&T built its new IP infrastructure on Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7) core routers, while SBC went with (Nasdaq: CSCO). (See SBC/AT&T: Possible Winners & Losers and SBC/AT&T: How Painful for Vendors?)

The network integration will be led by Kaveh Hushyar, vice president of network engineering, who will report to Rice, the source says. Hushyar held the same title at the old AT&T.

Who else is sticking around? The source says Behzad Nadji, formerly AT&T's chief architect, will be senior vice president in charge of technology research, essentially keeping his old job and adding SBC Labs to his purview. (See AT&T Goes Beyond Convergence.)

Moreover, the source says Forrest E. Miller, recently named group president of the new AT&T Corp., has chosen his team from mostly AT&T heritage, including: Robin Bienfait, vice president of network operations; Clayton Lockhart, VP of global access management; Cathy Martine, senior VP of consumer products; Kathryn Morrissey, VP of global wholesale; Colleen Mullens, senior VP of customer service; and Chris Rooney (formerly president of AT&T sales), senior VP of business sales.

The lone SBC member reporting directly to Miller is Mark Keiffer, who replaces Flaherty as chief marketing officer. Keiffer, who helped lead the team that picked "AT&T" as the name for the merged carriers, was highly visible as head of SBC's business marketing, a trait not shared by all CMOs. (See Your CMO Is Who?)

Separately, USA Today reported Sunday night that Cingular Wireless LLC, the wireless operator owned by (NYSE: BLS) and the new AT&T, might switch to the "AT&T" brand name. Such a move could heighten talk of an eventual SBC/BellSouth pairing. (See Is an SBC/BellSouth Merger Next?)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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stephencooke
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stephencooke,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:22 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T
Have there been any carrier execs that successfully make the transition to the other side of the table?

Steve.
sayward
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sayward,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:21 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T
Bill Leighton was a former AT&T big wig who is now the CEO of AVCI. Former TLAB CEO Notebart was CEO of Ameritch and after TLAB, went back to his natives at Q.
euler
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euler,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:21 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T
It wasn't so long ago (~3 years)when Eslambolchi resigned from AT&T to take a job @ CISCO. He quickly had a change of heart and rejoined AT&T.

Euler
Stbl
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Stbl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:20 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T

Materialgirl - it's called marketing and it is for the millions of people who will never know (or care to know) the details of who is running what. It is a smart move.

Besides, AT&T may have been a good org in some ways but they don't exactly have a state of the art infrastructure after years of underinvesting...
materialgirl
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materialgirl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:20 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T
Is it not ironic that SBC ditches most of the techies who built the ATT network, then change their name to ATT. Who are they trying to fool?
jsailor
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jsailor,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:19 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T

"Is it not ironic that SBC ditches most of the techies who built the ATT network, then change their name to ATT. Who are they trying to fool?"

They're not fooling anyone. Eslmabolchi was not liked and certainly wasn't respected for any technical prowess. Shedding the expense and wasted cycles associated with satisfying his ego is the smartest thing SBC could do.
materialgirl
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materialgirl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:19 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T
It is marketing, but how comfortable would you be with a big network that no one on top has any experience running? These circuit switch guys buy a big converged MPLS network and fire the guys who ran it. Now they want to use it somehow in video transport. This spells the beginning of the end.
jmunn
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jmunn,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:19 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T
It's very sad that they went from DEATHSTAR to child's rubber ball for the logo.
Stbl
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Stbl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:18 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T

It is anything but a converged IP/MPLS network - it is many disparate networks with a concept and some limited progress towards a converged network. You have bought a bit of the ATT marketing yourself...
desiEngineer
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desiEngineer,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:53:16 AM
re: Source: Eslambolchi Out at 'New' AT&T
" It is anything but a converged IP/MPLS network - it is many disparate networks with a concept and some limited progress towards a converged network. You have bought a bit of the ATT marketing yourself..."

Eslambolchi just didn't have the fortitude to set the trend of the converged IP/MPLS network. That goes to BT's 21CN and a few other lower profile but more gutsy providers.

On the other hand, what has SBC gone and done? Project Lightspeed didn't need the distraction of migrating a dying FR/ATM/randomly constructed IP network with a backbone of AVICI, fer cryin' out loud!

-desi
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