AT&T Plans Exec Shuffle, Braden Rises

AT&T Broadband will restructure its high-speed-data, telephony and new-product development businesses by combining the units into a new Broadband Services division.

Under the plan, which AT&T plans to announce this week, Greg Braden-the company's former top telephony and engineering executive-will be elevated to executive vice president of broadband services and chief technology officer. The last CTO, Tony Werner, left in October.

The move also reduces the number of direct reports to CEO Dan Somers, as the senior executives from the three units will now report directly to Braden.

"Traditionally, we've had those businesses operating in discreet silos," Braden said. "Now that we've got very strong footholds in those businesses, it's time for us to take the next step, which is to start pulling together our operations so that we can take advantage of operating all of those businesses across the common infrastructure."

In the past, AT&T's telephony, high-speed data and new-product development units pursued separate projects based on Internet protocol. It made more sense to combine the three teams to develop a range of IP-based products, Braden said.

Nine executives from the three units will comprise the broadband-services management team. Senior vice president of data services Susan Marshall is now senior vice president of advanced broadband services.

Cathy Kilstrom remains senior vice president of telephony services planning and development, and former vice president of AT&T Broadband Labs Jim Starr is now vice president of engineering, technology and labs.

Oleh Sniezko will report to Starr as vice president of engineering, and vice president of network implementation John Heslip will keep the same title.

Charlotte Field remains senior vice president of network and technical operations, while Gary Lane continues as vice president of service delivery. Xiaolin Lu, the former vice president of strategic engineering and IP networks, will now add the title of vice president of IP networks planning and implementation to her business cards.

And senior vice president of new products Jennifer Bater will remain senior vice president, responsible for the company's Headend In The Sky platform, its digital-media center and its national authorization system.

Some key AT&T veterans are not in the group. Former vice president of advanced technology Jim Wood recently resigned from the company, a spokeswoman said.

Rich Fickle will remain senior vice president of HITS, and report to Bater. But he is dropping the ITV program director title.

"I'll still help Susan [Marshall] on ITV, and I'll continue to oversee HITS, which may be involved in helping to provision some new ITV services," said Fickle, adding that he's happy with the position.

AT&T Broadband cut about 1,000 employees nationwide in February. Braden said some senior executives from telephony, high-speed data and new product development were among those cut, but he wouldn't offer any names.

Marshall said the move was "mostly a reflection of our product maturity within the company, and the need to now attempt to achieve more convergence as opposed to intense focus on individual products."

In addition to the 3 million subscribers in its core video-programming business, AT&T counts 1.1 high-speed-data customers (through Excite@Home Corp.) and 560,000 telephony subscribers.

Marshall said the company hopes to use Internet protocol to offer "a suite of communication services that can be delivered across multiple platforms," including visual voice mail that is captured and delivered in a WAV file, the ability to access electronic mail via telephone and instant messaging. Those products will be offered though set-tops, telephones, PCs and other Internet appliances or through a gateway device connected to the side of a home.

All of the company's local telephone subscribers currently rely on a circuit-switched network, but Braden said the company hopes to commercially deploy an IP-telephony solution next year.

AT&T won't launch IP telephony until the product is strong enough to be a lifeline service, Braden said. The MSO is currently conducting an IP-telephony trial in Boulder, Colo., he added.

AT&T will also look to migrate circuit-switched telephone subscribers to the IP product. But telephone subscribers who only want plain old telephone service won't be switched to IP in order to save a truck roll, Braden explained.

Arlen Communications president Gary Arlen sounded skeptical about the changes, noting that AT&T Corp. and AT&T Broadband have changed directions often since the telco acquired the former Tele-Communications Inc. in 1998.

"It gives AT&T the opportunity, which it has long wanted to use, [to have] local cable distribution and voice-over-IP as the application to hook up to the long-distance network, which has been the dream since they bought TCI," Arlen said.