From day one, AT&T’s network has been in the crosshairs of iPhone users who have complained about everything from extremely slow data speeds to absolutely unacceptable reception. But through it all, the allure of the iPhone proved greater than the shortcomings of AT&T’s network.
As a result, many people reasonably assumed that when Verizon started carrying the iPhone 4 earlier this year, we’d see a mass migration of AT&T users heading towards Verizon, largely considered to have the most reliable network in the US.
That, however, wasn’t the case. While Verizon certainly amassed a respectable number of iPhone subscribers, AT&T did a far better job than anyone could have imagined in preventing a huge defection amongst its iPhone subscriber base. During the June quarter, for example, AT&T activated 3.6 million iPhones and made a point of noting in its press release at the time that iPhone subscriber churn was down sequentially.
So with Sprint likely to be carrying Apple’s next-gen iPhone this Fall, AT&T’s Randall Stephenson isn’t all that worried. During this week’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, Stephenson said that the hype surrounding new carriers carrying the iPhone is “always overblown.”
“Anytime there’s another competitor launching Apple’s hit device,” Stephenson explained, “the expectations for what would happen to the carrier that had it before is overblown. The competitive dynamic will be no different than the last time.”
Pointing out AT&T’s strength against competitors like Verizon, Stephenson highlighted features like faster network connections to the confining nature of the CDMA networks employed by Verizon and Sprint which aren’t found many places outside of the US.