NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Apple's iPhone will be a "game changer" for AT&T's wireless arm, according to AT&T Chief Operating Officer Randall Stephenson.
"I don't know what your expectations are for the iPhone, but they're probably too low," he said during the Lehman Brothers analyst conference Wednesday.
Stephenson is set to take over as chief executive of the company Sunday. He replaces retiring executive Ed Whitacre, who spearheaded the creation of the telecommunications giant.
The executive said that more than 1 million people have expressed interest in purchasing the iPhone and that the buzz continues to build.
AT&T has a number of feature devices that are available if customers don't want to spend the $499 to $599 for an iPhone, Stephenson said. There are many 3G devices that will help drive average revenue per user. He noted that 40% of AT&T's gross customer additions purchase a 3G phone.
Wireless is the key product to gain ownership of the home, since it's the most personal buying decision for the consumer. "It's a reflection of your personality, how you live, and how you communicate," he said.
Stephenson also commented on Alltel's decision to go private, saying AT&T didn't make a play for the company because of the differing wireless technology and because of the money being thrown at it by the private equity firms. He added that Alltel owns some of the best spectrum in the industry.
AT&T uses a wireless technology called GSM, which is used widely throughout the world. Alltel mainly works around a technology called CDMA, which is more compatible with the likes of Sprint Nextel.
While he said he would love to own it, he felt secure in AT&T's current spectrum position. "There's no real sense of urgency for it," he said.
Shares of AT&T were at $40.25 in recent premarket activity, down from Tuesday's close of $40.49.
-By Roger Cheng, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-2020; firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires"
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