Monday, May 18, 2015

The Future Of AT&T

Where once AT&T was better known by the moniker of Ma Bell, today no such branding exists.  The break up of its telephone monopoly decades ago, the rise of cellular, and stiff competition from one of the few Baby Bell children, once known as NYNEX  and now as Verizon, that has created a very different voice landscape.  AT&T now finds itself needing to be more strategic and innovative.

That move actually started last year when AT&T announced its plans to acquire DirecTv.  With approval expected, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson sees a change into a stronger data driven broadband entity.  Per the Deadline Hollywood article, it appears to include more investment in wired broadband via fiber optics and "wireless broadband to about 13 million homes, mostly in rural America."  How the DirecTv merger helps them get there remains to be seen.  While Stephenson likes the content offered on DirecTv, like the NFL Ticket, he may be limited in how he can distribute it.  I believe that Verizon actually owns the mobile license to the NFL.

What remains to be seen by AT&T is more clearly the synergy and growth that the DirecTv acquisition creates for the company.  Can it lead to growth of the cable platform and a wider rollout of triple play offerings?  Are there economies of scale in call centers, truck rollouts, marketing budgets, etc. ?  Clearly Stephenson seems quite optimistic in what he has to work with and how it "will transform his company into a juggernaut in the fast-growing streaming video market." I'm hoping he is right and that he can create a nationwide competitive broadband platform against cable franchise markets and other cellular networks.  We will wait and see.