By John Schaffner
AT&T’s new regional president told those attending the quarterly luncheon of the Buckhead Business Association (BBA) that Atlanta will be the first market to get the new U-verse video site being developed by the telecommunications giant.
In 2006 AT&T bought Atlanta-based BellSouth for $67 billion. During the April 17 meeting at 103 West restaurant on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, Harry M. Lightsey said as part of that purchase, AT&T also gained total control of Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless. He said the result has been a company that is still new in many ways.
“We call it AT&T 2.0,” he told the audience of more than 150 Buckhead business and civic leaders.
Regardless, the company is the largest provider of telephone and broadband services in the country.
“Every time we have been able to raise connectivity, we have been able to increase the velocity with which people communicate with each other, do business with each other,” he said.
Lightsey pointed out that today there are more wireless devices — cell phones, PDAs and laptops — than wired phones. He said these devices — such as Apple’s iPhone — point to the convergence of technologies.
“The iPhone is an Internet access point,” he said, allowing users to download music, maps or television shows, as well as engaging in voice communications.
Adding to that technology AT&T has created U-verse, a way to stream video over the Internet — a lucrative market with just one very big competitor, YouTube.
YouTube is a Web site devoted to video. Anyone can go to the site and watch videos and adding video can be as easy as creating an account and uploading.
AT&T’s video site, U-verse, according to Lightsey, would differ from YouTube giving users interactivity, and a mix of television shows and services, such as a Yellow Pages channel.
Asked when U-verse would be introduced into the Atlanta market, Lightsey said, “We don’t like to talk about when we are going to roll out products. I will tell you it’s going to be soon.”
Lightsey has been in Atlanta before in his various roles with AT&T but this time he expects it to be fairly permanent. This speech to the Buckhead Business Association was one of his very first since assuming his new position as president for the company’s Southeast region.
Lightsey’s formal education includes a law degree from the University of South Carolina and a bachelors degree that included Japanese studies at Princeton University. Much of his work with AT&T has involved regulatory issues over the years and he still will be working heavily in that field in his new position.