AT&T Merging Mobility, Enterprise Units Into One

AT&T confirmed it's merging its Mobility and Business Solutions divisions into one, as the telecom giant sees a surge in demand for its wireless and mobility offerings within the enterprise market.

AT&T said Tuesday the newly combined unit will be led by Ralph de la Vega, former CEO of AT&T's Mobility group. De la Vega's new title is CEO of AT&T's Mobile and Business Solutions Group, reporting to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. Andrew Geisse, former AT&T Business Solutions CEO, is retiring after 35 years with the company.

Meanwhile, Glenn Lurie, former president of AT&T Mobility's Emerging Enterprises and Partnerships business, will step in to fill de la Vega's former role as CEO, AT&T Mobility.

[Related: AT&T Pumps $300M Into New Partner Financing Program, Other Channel Resources]

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According to AT&T, combining its mobility- and business-focused units seemed like a natural step, given more enterprise customers are leveraging wireless and mobile technologies, in lieu of traditional landline or wired solutions, to power their businesses.

"Integrating Business Solutions into Mobility is a great fit, because mobility is how businesses do business," an AT&T spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to CRN. "In fact, business-related customers represent more than 50 percent of our mobile revenues and it's growing. This new group will focus on delivering integrated solutions for business customers that are first and foremost mobile, and also secure, reliable, ultra-fast and effortless."

Edward O'Connor, vice president of network sales at Total Communications, an East Hartford, Conn.-based AT&T partner, said AT&T's decision to combine its Business Solutions and Mobility groups makes sense, given the growing overlap between the divisions' customer bases. The move also plays into AT&T's vision of shedding its landline business and being a completely mobile company by 2020, O'Connor said.

"They are on public record saying that by 2020 they are going to be a mobility company, so it makes sense that we see this move and further alignment of their sales organizations," O'Connor said.

O'Connor noted that AT&T late last year already sold its Connecticut landline business to Stamford, Ct.-based Frontier Communications. He said while some customers are definitely take the leap to all-mobile environments, Total Communications still sees a solid revenue stream around wireline or landline sales.

"You may have early adopters, but there is still a really large population of folks -- of businesses -- that sort of like that status quo and that stability," O'Connor said.

Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president, Cloud Transformation at Intelisys, a Petaluma, Calif.-based master agent and AT&T partner, also said he wasn't surprised to see AT&T merge the two units.

"More and more users don't really differentiate between their desk phone, their cell phone, their desk email and their mobile email. It's all converged," Pryfogle said. "So it strikes me that their decision to merge these two divisions makes sense. It's definitely where IT is headed."

The merger, which was first reported Tuesday by Fierce Wireless, comes as AT&T continues to add mobility solutions to its AT&T Partner Exchange Program, allowing AT&T solution providers to go to market with data plans, voice plans and a range of mobile devices certified to run on AT&T networks.

AT&T said integrating the company's Mobility and Business Solutions units will ultimately drive more opportunities for AT&T solution providers in the mobility market.

"Mobility is a core part of the AT&T Partner Exchange reseller program and this move will further enhance the work we’re doing to help solution providers broaden their portfolio and provide what their end-user business customers want from their mobile experience," the spokesperson said.

Launched in 2013, Partner Exchange is AT&T's first channel program exclusively for IT VARs and solution providers. The Dallas-based company also has an Alliance partner program for telecom and master agents.

AT&T has added roughly 150 solution providers to the Partner Exchange program since last February.

AT&T's decision to merge its Mobility and Business Solutions groups comes as the company reportedly inches closer to completing its acquisition of satellite television company DirecTV; according to a report from The New York Post this week, AT&T has agreed to comply with conditions laid out by U.S. Department of Justice in order to move forward with the $48.5 billion deal.