A senior AT&T executive says that there is still a public perception gap regarding the operator's network quality despite AT&T being able to point to strong, independent data on the performance of its 4G LTE offering.
John Donovan, senior executive VP of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) technology & network operations was asked Wednesday afternoon at the Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. 2013 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference whether "brand lag" was allowing rivals like T-Mobile US Inc. to go after Ma Bell on its network performance.
"There's a lag in perception," Donovan said. Back in 2009, you may remember, AT&T had to admit that parts of its network were "under-performing" in the face of the vast popularity of its iPhone service. (See AT&T Mobile Boss: NYC & San Fran Are 'Underperforming'.)
The operator is apparently still trying to shake off some of that negative perception.
"The first priority for us is the wireless network quality," Donovan had already told the conference attendees and webcast listeners. It is the key objective of Project VIP, which is coming up for its first anniversary. (See AT&T Puts Up $14B to Boost Broadband.)
"The job's never done," he said. "It's a complex technology in the face of an ever-changing demand environment."
To change the perception gap, meanwhile, Donovan says that AT&T started at the company level. "First of all, you have to believe the story yourself," Donovan explained, saying that it has been important to get employees "loud and proud" about the service in the vast number of interactions they have with the public.
The operator, meanwhile, has been taking a data-driven approach to advertising and the media. Hence AT&T's constant referencing of data from RootMetrics that finds it has the fastest LTE network. (See AT&T: Why Our LTE Is Better.)
"I think the data is really working in our favor," says Donovan. Adding that being able to say that it has, for instance, the best performing network in Chicago, has helped with churn. (See AT&T Claims Most Reliable 4G LTE Network.)
Not that the company always gets its messaging pitch-perfect. AT&T is being excoriated today -- the 12th anniversary of 9/11 -- on Twitter and beyond for tweeting an image of an AT&T phone photographing the Tribute in Light beams that commemorate the anniversary of the attacks every year in NYC with the words: "Never forget." The Twitter-verse received this more as marketing than memorial.
AT&T pulled the tweet and apologized soon after.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading