Stephenson: AT&T still not 'up to speed' on DirecTV installation

Nearly three quarters after closing on its $49 billion purchase of DirecTV, AT&T (NYSE: T) CEO Randall Stephenson said the company is still ramping up its installation workforce for the satellite TV operator.

"The sales channel is just really starting to get their legs underneath them on how to attach satellite and mobility together," Stephenson said last week, during AT&T's fourth-quarter earnings call. "This is a new category and so we're very, very new in this and the performance continues to get better and better in the sales channel."

"Also keep in mind that we don't even have the installation workforce up to speed on provisioning this," he added. "So we're just getting the installation and workforce up. We just had the latest union contract gave us the rights we needed to push this out across our entire footprint. And so you're going to see us continue to get better and better there as well."

For the fourth quarter, AT&T said that DirecTV added 214,000 customers, a solid metric offset only by the 240,000 video subscriber's shed by AT&T's other TV video platform, U-verse.

Earlier, AT&T said that it has been training its broadband and U-verse IPTV installers to also install service for its DirecTV offerings. The company said it was streamlining its installation process through what is known inside the company as Project Halo, or its "High Automation Low Overhead" process. That is contributing to across-the-board cost savings for the company, executives added.

The first wave of technicians trained under this program was deployed back in November.

"First, and most important, training our technicians to install DirecTV service will significantly improve the customer experience," the company said in a statement. "Our customers will enjoy the simplicity and convenience of a single visit to install both video and Internet service. This will help us increase revenues as more and more customers choose multiple products. Secondly, as we increase our cross-marketing efforts, installing multiple services in a single visit will be much more efficient. This will help us realize the $2.5 billion in cost synergies we expect from this deal."

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