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AT&T's Mobility Chief Signals Renewed Business Thrust

Ralph de la Vega's new position combines mobility, landlines, and TV and Internet access; it's a sign AT&T may do the same for corporate customers.
Ralph de la Vega, the AT&T executive who presided over the company's partnership with Apple to bring the iPhone to American consumers, has been given expanded responsibilities, according to a posting on AT&T's Web site.

In addition to continued responsibility over wireless mobility operations, he will be in charge of consumer operations that include landline offerings, which are usually marketed in bundles of telephone, TV, and Internet access. His new title is CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.

Because de la Vega's new position combines mobility, landlines, and TV and Internet access, the question is raised whether AT&T will step up efforts to include wireless offerings in its existing bundle of products.

While its exclusive arrangement with Apple to market the iPhone has been a success for AT&T, at the time it was launched more than a year ago, it was considered a risky bet.

De la Vega brings a long history in both landline and wireless communications to his new post. He came to AT&T from Cingular, AT&T's predecessor wireless operation that it owned jointly with BellSouth. He had been Cingular's CEO from 2004 to 2006, when he was in charge of technology planning, network operations, marketing, sales, and customer care.

As president of BellSouth's Broadband and Internet services, he gained valuable experience in broadband and Internet technologies, including how to market them. For instance, BellSouth began testing WiMax seriously in 2005.

Starting as a management assistant at BellSouth's predecessor company, Southern Bell, in 1974, de la Vega followed an unbridled rise through the ranks of the telecommunications company as it acquired other former regional Bell operating companies until AT&T became the largest telecommunications company in the world.

A native of Cuba, de la Vega had been president of BellSouth's Latin American operation with responsibility for 11 Latin American countries earlier in his career. He has a bachelor's degree from Florida Atlantic University in mechanical engineering and a master's in business administration from Northern Illinois University.