The Pivot jv between Sprint and cable ops may be gaining momentum, but AT&T COO Randall Stephenson and Verizon chmn/CEO Ivan Seidenberg view their own wireless networks as the fulcrum to watch over the next 3-5 years. Stephenson, who will take over from Edward Whitacre as CEO on Sun, said Wed at a Sanford Bernstein conference that the conversation about winning the race for consumers’ homes "starts and ends with wireless." Characterizing the cable industry’s view of wireless as lukewarm (and implying a major gaffe therein), Stephenson said wireless "is the future of our business. It differentiates us in the long-term in the consumer and business markets." Stephenson also gushed over AT&T’s exclusive deal for the imminent release of Apple’s iPhone. "It will be a game changer," he said. Addressing the same conference later in the day, Seidenberg was less effusive on wireless but agreed that wireline growth will be greatly aided by a wireless-led service bundle. "We see terrific growth potential in [wireless] data going forward," said Seidenberg, who cited Verizon’s brand as a major competitive advantage in wireless. As for FiOS TV, Seidenberg cited solid ARPU growth, particularly in maturing markets such as Keller, TX, where ARPU is up 20% since video was introduced 2 years ago. In video markets that are 18-months-old, 10% ARPU growth is the norm, he said. Meanwhile AT&T’s U- verse TV has passed 30K subs, said Stephenson, and now averages 500 installs/day.

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