Speaking at Barclays Global Technology Brokers Conference on Wednesday morning, the chief executive officer and president of AT&T Mobility, Mr. Glenn Laurie, said that carrier will focus its attention on acquiring and retaining high-value customers rather than immerse itself in cut-throat competition for numbers. According to him, AT&T will be better off with enterprise users and high-end consumers, who he referred to as the carrier’s “bread and butter”, as they typically bring higher ARPUs (Average Revenue per User), thereby increasing margins in an industry that’s increasingly seeing higher attrition rates and falling margins amidst stiff competition from newer service providers with aggressive positioning, like T-Mobile.
Elaborating on his argument further, Mr. Laurie said that AT&T are more interested in customers who are likely to subscribe to bundled wireless, wireline, broadband and cable television services. Having acquired DTH service provider DirecTV earlier in the year for $49 billion, AT&T’s CEO believes that the company is well placed to service those subscribers, unlike some of its rivals who are currently emerging as the price warriors in the market. According to him, “You have to look at mobility from a different set of segments. What customers want is they want the Internet, they want the bundle. And they want it to be simple, they want it to be clean”. As for the low-end feature phone and prepaid segments of the market, Mr. Laurie said that even though AT&T currently offers its services in those segments, it isn’t willing to burn a whole lot of cash trying to get that business.
Having made his company’s stance on prepaid subscribers pretty clear, Mr. Laurie hastened to add that the line between pre and postpaid consumers are getting blurred at a rapid pace of late. While prepaid in the US used to be the last resort for people with bad credit, in more recent times, the image as well as the customer profile of prepaid users has changed, as per his observation. According to him, the company’s prepaid subsidiary, Cricket Wireless, recently posted an ARPU of $42, which is a significant increase from what the brand’s ARPUs used to be not that long ago. “You can’t go chase every single add. You’ve got to make some decisions on where you’re going to put your focus. And our focus today is on the high end”, Mr. Laurie signed off.