AT&T chief warns of swamped networks, eyes Pre

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson warned the wireless industry that operators are not prepared for the deluge of data that increased smartphone use will bring to their networks.

He also said that AT&T Mobility would look to launch the Palm Pre once Palm's exclusive agreement with Sprint Nextel for the device runs out. "Would I like to see Palm Pre on our network? Of course." he said, speaking at the D: All Things Digital conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal. "We want a broad selection of devices."

According to a report in February, which cited unnamed sources, Sprint will have exclusive U.S. rights to sell the Pre until the end of 2009. Sprint will launch the device June 6.

Stephenson defended AT&T's network performance, which was criticized in the wake of alleged network problems following the launch of the iPhone 3G last summer. He said that the top reason subscribers leave a carrier is because of network quality issues, but that AT&T's churn is decreasing.

"I feel like we are closing the gap on this, but we're not there yet," Stephenson said. "We are about to see these issues manifest themselves industry-wide."

AT&T's postpaid churn for the first quarter was 1.2 percent, stable from the year-ago quarter and down from 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The carrier just announced its plans to upgrade its network over the next few years. AT&T said it will double the amount of 850 MHz wireless spectrum used for its 3G network in most metropolitan areas, and will offer multiple HSPA 7.2 Mbps-compatible laptop cards and smartphones starting later this year.  

For more:
- see this article (sub. req.)
- see this CNET article
- see this blog post 

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