CEO admits AT&T wasn't ready for Apple iPhone

Sounds like AT&T (T) has been fairly criticized by its Apple (AAPL) iPhone customers for poor network performance.

The telecom giant wasn't quite ready when the iPhone launched, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told the audience today at the "D: All Things Digital" conference in Carlsbad, California.

"We're improving," he told The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, during on onstage interview at the conference. Specifically, he said AT&T is improving network quality and reducing churn.

All Things Digital's John Paczkowski wrote that AT&T's service "must be getting better," based on folks raising their hands at the event when asked if they are satisfied with the service on their AT&T iPhones.

AT&T is theoretically doubling the speed of its network, Stephenson said. The speed increase won't help current phone owners, but future phones will be built to take advantage of the improved speed.

The company made a good bet, Stephenson told Mossberg, that the industry was headed toward wider use of smartphones. It's now seeing a dramatic uptakes in usage, so the pricing model must change, he said, without explaining how. In the meantime, he said, the economics of the iPhone are good for AT&T.

Mossberg asked him if he ever asked Apple CEO Steve Jobs to put a keyboard on the iPhone? Stephenson said no.

"If Steve wants to put a keyboard on the iPhone," Stephenson said. "I'm sure he will."

Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. You may follow him on Twitter at hianthony.
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