@ UBS Media Week: AT&T’s De La Vega On The Defense


Credit: AT&T

Maybe Ralph de la Vega would have delivered the same presentation to investors and analysts at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference without Verizon’s clever — sometimes brutal — ad campaign targeting network quality. Maybe, but I doubt it. De la Vega came out swinging on the subject, shifting between boasting about the strength and quality of AT&T’s network and talking about the improvements that are being made with comments like the “nationwide dropped call performance has moved in the right direction.”

During Q&A, he admitted that Manhattan and the San Francisco financial district are the major underperfoming markets, outlining the fixes being made and promising significant improvements. Manhattan’s performance was hit when spectrum increased reach into buildings, combined with the intense increase in data usage. Imagine how different AT&T’s wireless rep would be if those two markets were better than the rest, not worse.

Some other tidbits from the session:

— AT&T (NYSE: T) U-Verse expects to pass the 2 million mark in subscribers today. It also is introducing 24 Mbps internet access in San Antonio, Austin and St. Louis. From personal experience, this suggests an increase in potential reach for the video service in areas where cable has had the highest speeds.

— De la Vega announced that AT&T will provide the 3G wireless for Interead’s COOL-ER e-readers. That’s in addition to deals for Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook, and Plastic Logic’s upcoming Que.

— 40 percent of all post-paid customers use integrated devices with data plans. Those are keyboard devices, not just smartphones.

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