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AT&T exec doesn't see mass exodus to Verizon iPhone

updated 09:50 am EDT, Wed May 19, 2010

ATT says family, work plans keep iPhone users

AT&T's wireless chief Ralph de la Vega today dismissed talk of a Verizon iPhone triggering a rush of defections to the rival carrier. He explained at a JP Morgan conference that 70 percent of all of AT&T's customers are on family plans, which are difficult to transition wholesale to another carrier due to multiple devices. About 40 percent of subscribers have corporate plans that employers wouldn't necessarily be willing to switch over to another carrier.

Extenuating circumstances have regularly been one of the deciding factors in customers remaining with their existing carriers, as AT&T has rarely had more than a third of iPhone customers switching from another carrier. Besides family and work plan commitments, some may live in areas where AT&T doesn't offer coverage or are in employment conditions that require a particular mobile OS, such as BlackBerry or Windows Mobile.

The executive didn't go so far as to indicate that AT&T's exclusivity period for the iPhone was ending, but the remarks are unusual as the company has previously never openly addressed the prospects of other US carriers getting Apple's handset. Apple had previously confirmed that its original deal would last until 2012, but it's now believed by some that the deal could end this year and that the iPad's AT&T-only 3G support may have been an olive branch in return for a shorter contract.

De la Vega himself was enthused with the iPad, saying he was "addicted" to it and that it had "changed the way [he] work[s]." As an example, he touted that was finally able to clear his e-mail by using the Apple tablet on in-flight Wi-Fi.

by MacNN Staff



  1. phillymjs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wow, is that something to be proud of?

    Basically he's saying people won't leave because it's painful to switch-- not because AT&T provides service they're totally happy with.

  1. sjsutton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'll Be First In Line

    I'll be the first in line at the Verizon Store to purchase my VW iPhone. AT&T service is the absolute worst, and at this point I'd pay the full termination fee to get out of their grip.

  1. B9bot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    He's delusional.

    You want a bet. If Verizon's coverage is better along with there customer support people will leave in droves, probably 50% or more!

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Verizon and AT&T, two peas in a pod

    Verizon is expensive and difficult with their customers too, at least by reputation.
    Cnet has been covering the saga of an 18K surprise bill one customer got...the story has been dragging on for years.

    But, at least in areas where you can't get at&t, vzw is another choice. I doubt they will be lower cost, or have better customer service....they are not known for that.

  1. Bearcat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Family Plans

    What is so difficult about switching multiple phones on a family plan to another carrier? Seriously, I just don't get it.

  1. chotty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just remember...

    if it comes to Vz, you won't be able to do data & talk at the same time - as far as I know.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I think he's right...

    I don't think AT&T will see mass defection to Verizon. I would think that those people in areas not well-covered by AT&T would "defect" to Verizon, while those in good coverage areas would have no incentive to switch.

    Here in south Texas, AT&T coverage is pretty damn good. 3G coverage is about DSL speed -- close to 3Mb down, 512k up with 100 to 300ms pings. Not too shabby. I hardly think Verizon would make a dent in the local subscriber base. Now, in New York or parts of California where AT&T has typically struggled with network robustness, sure -- I can see a lot of people wanting to go Verizon.

    50% of AT&T iPhone customers defecting? Naah -- I think that's unrealistic.

  1. smashedbanana

    Joined: Dec 1969


    More Importantly

    What's up with Ralph's hair.

    Wait I will discuss it further on SytleNN

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Verizon is lame

    We are a third-world nation, where Verizon's lack of quality probably rank bottom in most Asian/European nation. That being said, Verizon still has better coverage most of the time. However, I tested it one time and it just did not fit into my travel pattern. I have already marked down AT&T towers, so I know where I need to go go have good coverage.

    One time I signed up with Verizon under their 14-day money-back-guarantee promotion. I got the phone and tested extensively by calling 611 everywhere I go just to test signal quality and coverage. Within 8 hours, I called up and processed a return.

    I was given multiple invoices and harassing phone calls. It even reached the collections desk.

    On the last letter, I wrote: You can just roll up this pile of S and shove it where the moon don't shine.

    I received a nasty phone call within a week. The b**** on the other end said: We are going to keep this on file for seven years. I said to her: 'I am soooooo scared and I want to tell my mother. That's not going to make a dent on my 800+ fico score. Go ahead and shove it up your a.'

  1. Leftnotracks

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cell carrier math

    Sure, 110% of their customers are corporate or on family packages, but what about the rest of them?

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