(Adds analyst comments, background, details throughout)
By Marina Lopes
WASHINGTON Aug 26 AT&T Inc is merging its
wireless and business divisions into a single unit led by Ralph
de la Vega, former chief executive of the company's wireless
segment, a spokesman for AT&T said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes as cable companies try to lure
business customers away from traditional telecommunications
carriers. To become a more seamless competitor, AT&T has been
combining its wireline and wireless operations, including
customer care and network operations.
Glenn Lurie, who headed AT&T's emerging enterprises and
partnerships unit, has been promoted to chief executive officer
of AT&T's wireless segment, reporting to de la Vega, AT&T
spokesman Brad Burns said in an email.
Business-related customers represent more than 50 percent of
the company's mobile revenues.
"They are simply making the case that the cornerstone of the
enterprise sale is now wireless rather than wireline. It makes a
ton of sense with the cable industry focusing more and more on
the commercial segment," said Craig Moffett, an analyst at
Comcast has been steadily building out its Wi-Fi network and
plans to have 8 million hot spots by the end of the year,
covering 19 of the 30 largest U.S. cities. The No. 1 U.S. cable
company is also seeking U.S. regulatory approval to buy Time
Warner Cable Inc, which now has 34,000 Wi-Fi hot
If the merger is approved, the combined company would have a
national footprint that could potentially challenge the
dominance of U.S. telecom companies Verizon Communications Inc
and AT&T in offering cellular data and even voice
"The missing piece for cable is wireless and AT&T seems to
be positioning itself to emphasize not only their strength, but
cable's weakness," said Moffett.
Before taking on the combined wireless and business unit, de
la Vega led AT&T Mobility for seven years.
(Reporting by Marina Lopes. Editing by Andre Grenon)