AT&T CEO expects Verizon to grab share with iPhone

AT&T (NYSE:T) CEO Randall Stephenson said he expects Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) to grab market share now that it has broken AT&T Mobility's exclusive hold on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iconic iPhone. 

"There's a competitor in the marketplace, you know, competing for the same phone, so we'll share the marketplace," he said at a CEO forum at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. Verizon will allow existing customers to pre-order the device Feb. 3; the device will be available Feb. 10 for all other subscribers. Like AT&T, Verizon will sell the 16 GB iPhone 4 for $199.99 with a two-year contract and the 32 GB version for $299.99.

The AT&T chief also said that greater competition among various smartphone platforms, such as Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform deliver a net benefit for the wireless industry. AT&T has been expanding its smartphone lineup to include more platforms in preparation for the eventual loss of the iPhone exclusivity, and the carrier plans on launching 12 Android phones this year.

Stephenson also touched on several technology policy issues at the forum. Specifically, Stephenson, who was sitting next to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, discussed the FCC's order on net neutrality. "We didn't get everything we wanted," Stephenson said. "I wanted no regulation. ... But we ended at a place where we have a line of sight and we know and can commit to investments." The FCC's rules for wireless networks are much lighter than those for wired broadband.

Separately, AT&T said that it will take a $2.7 billion non-cash charge in the fourth quarter due to how it conducts its pension accounting. AT&T said in a regulatory filing that it will report gains and losses from its pension and other post-retirement benefits in the year they come due rather than spreading them out over several years.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this National Journal article
- see this Reuters article

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