AT&T’s de la Vega to retire, will be replaced by Thaddeus Arroyo

AT&T's Ralph de la Vega speaks at Mobile World Congress 2012.

AT&T’s vice chairman, Ralph de la Vega, will retire at the end of this year, the company said.

CNET first reported the news, citing confirmation from the company.

Thaddeus Arroyo, the current head of AT&T’s operations in Mexico, will replace de la Vega, CNET reported. Kelly King, senior vice president of AT&T's business group, will take over control of AT&T’s operations in Mexico.

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De la Vega previously headed AT&T’s wireless business—famously ushering in the iPhone—before being promoted in 2014 as the CEO of AT&T's Mobile & Business Solutions Group. As part of that move in 2014, Glenn Lurie replaced de la Vega as CEO of AT&T Mobility, heading up the carrier’s wireless efforts.

Earlier this year de la Vega received another promotion when he was appointed as AT&T's vice chairman and placed in charge of its business and international units. At that time, John Stankey was named CEO of the AT&T entertainment group, taking the reins of the company's mobile division in addition to overseeing its DirecTV, internet and TV businesses. Lurie then began reporting to Stankey.

During his tenure as CEO of Business Solutions and AT&T International, de la Vega led the carrier's move to software-defined networking and virtualization. A key element of AT&T’s SDN capabilities in the enterprise market is its Network on Demand service, which lets customers provision their broadband services on the fly using a dedicated portal. By 2020, the service provider has said it will virtualize 70-75 percent of its offerings.

An AT&T representative said that de la Vega's retirement, and Arroyo's promotion, will not affect Lurie and that he remains head of AT&T's wireless business.

Arroyo is a 20-year AT&T veteran who worked as president of AT&T Technology Development before being named as head of AT&T’s Mexican business in early 2015. AT&T last year acquired Mexican wireless operators Iusacell and Nextel Mexico for a total of $4.4 billion and has since worked to build out an LTE network in that country in order to offer seamless services across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Mexico continues to be a growth story, just a tremendous job by our team. They're ahead of plan with their 4G LTE deployment, with their rebranding efforts, and with customer growth,” AT&T CFO John Stephens said during the carrier’s recently quarterly conference call with analysts, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the event.

Randall Stephenson remains the chief executive of AT&T overall.

De la Vega’s retirement comes at critical time for AT&T. The company is in the midst of attempting to close its blockbuster $84.5 billion acquisition of Time Warner, a transaction analysts believe will likely be approved by the incoming Trump administration, despite Donald Trump’s comments against the deal during his presidential campaign.

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