AT&T Ralphs Up a Convergence Strategy

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced today that it is reorganizing itself into four business units, each named for the type of customer it serves. The four groups comprising the new, new AT&T will be Consumer, Business, Infrastructure, and Diversified Businesses, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal and others.

"The management changes further align our employee teams, product offerings and resources around consumer and business customer segments, and integrate the management of our core infrastructure capabilities," writes an AT&T spokesman in an email to Light Reading. "Our customers want a One AT&T experience and these changes help us do that for both consumers and businesses."

So, what really changes? For starters, there's the appointment of AT&T's top wireless executive, Ralph de le Vega, as the exec in charge of all AT&T's consumer businesses, which include its fiber-to-the-node service, U-verse.

That consumer group was formerly part of the Telecom Operations unit, which is now AT&T's Infrastructure business. Yes, the group in charge of delivering consumer TV services was formerly the same folks who made sure the long-distance phone lines were up and running. The new service demanded an innovative approach, but the old structure was set in the days of delivering phone service as a utility.

Now all that is consumer is under one roof. Or, at least, reporting to one executive.

AT&T's wireless revenues and subscriber numbers will still be tracked as though it were a separate entity. But the disappearance of wireless as a business unit, in name, signifies a converged approach -- regardless of technology, this unit handles consumer concerns, period. AT&T says this will help the company come up with better products much more quickly than it could before.

"We expect these organizational changes will make us more effective and efficient in our sales and operations," the spokesman says. But he wouldn't go so far as to acknowledge layoffs or the addition of outside managers as part of this process. We'll stay tuned for those details.

AT&T says Ronald Spears will lead the Business group. Waco, Texas's own Ray Wilkins will continue to lead AT&T's Diversified Businesses unit, which includes AT&T's international investments, its phone books business, and its public coin telephone business. Those two groups are more or less the same as before.

John Stankey, who used to be the group president of AT&T's Telecom Operations unit, will become chief executive of the Infrastructure division. As head of infrastructure, Stankey will no longer have AT&T's consumer businesses under him. Nor will he be in charge of the business unit that sells services to small-to-medium-sized enterprises.

AT&T shares, which have lost about one third of their value in the past 12 months, were down about 1 percent today, still trading at slightly above $27 in early afternoon trading on Wednesday.

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
DarkWriting 12/5/2012 | 3:30:32 PM
re: AT&T Ralphs Up a Convergence Strategy C'mon Phil, making light of someone's name is not funny. That crap is for 3rd graders.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:30:32 PM
re: AT&T Ralphs Up a Convergence Strategy talking to AT&T spokesman about the reorg... will update this in a few minutes
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:30:31 PM
re: AT&T Ralphs Up a Convergence Strategy This may just be coincidence, but our editorial board is made up entirely of 3rd graders.

Oh, and a monkey: http://www.lightreading.com/do...

MMQoS 12/5/2012 | 3:30:30 PM
re: AT&T Ralphs Up a Convergence Strategy Phil:
This is a long "few minutes". Did you go out to lunch with the monkey?
Seriously is this the death knell for copper uVerse and those ugly VRADs?
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:30:29 PM
re: AT&T Ralphs Up a Convergence Strategy We ran the inital version of this story at 12:45 PM, and updated it less than an hour later.

The updated version is all you see now and it includes the spokesman's comments on the rationale behind AT&T's changes -- and our analysis that maybe it's a good idea to get the new consumer services out from under the managers that are used to building and running utility-type services.

gbmorrison 12/5/2012 | 3:30:23 PM
re: AT&T Ralphs Up a Convergence Strategy thanks for the laugh
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