AT&T's Larry Evans On What $1 Billion in Arkansas Can Buy

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Apr. 7, 2014 12:00 am  

Larry Evans

Larry Evans took over as AT&T’s vice president and general manager for Arkansas and Oklahoma in November following the retirement of Steve Gray.

Evans oversees sales and operations for about 1,100 AT&T employees, 60 AT&T-owned retail locations and 430 retail partners in Arkansas and Oklahoma. In 2013, he was appointed to the position for the second time, having previously served in it until 2008. Between those years he was vice president and general manager for AT&T’s tri-state market including Ohio, western Pennsylvania and northwestern Virginia. 

How has the task of leading your region changed since the last time you were general manager? In particular, how has the telecom industry evolved since the advent of the smartphone?

My role hasn’t changed, but the telecommunications industry has seen dramatic changes. When I left Arkansas for Pennsylvania in 2008, AT&T had launched the very first iPhone the summer before. Prior to that, we didn’t have smartphones. There wasn’t an app store or even apps to speak of. Today, people use the mobile network in almost every part of their lives. There are now millions of apps available, across multiple platforms, and mobile data traffic has skyrocketed. AT&T has more than 1 billion devices connected to our network, which carries roughly 56.2 petabytes of data on an average business day. In fact, from January 2007 through December 2013, data traffic on AT&T’s national wireless network increased more than 50,000 percent. During that time, AT&T has invested more than $1 billion in our Arkansas network.

What do you see as the next phase in development for smartphone speed — when will we see a 5G?

In November 2012, AT&T announced Project Velocity IP, a three-year investment plan to expand and enhance its wireless and wired Internet Protocol broadband networks. With VIP, we’re taking steps now to meet future demand for high-speed Internet. Expanding our IP network capabilities will allow for better service, greater efficiencies and new capabilities for our customers.

Does selling AT&T services in a rural region present different challenges than in other regions?

A significant portion of our local investment was for new and enhanced cell sites in rural Arkansas. That means more rural Arkansas customers will benefit from having better coverage and services. And through our 4G LTE network, we’ll deliver high-speed Internet to people in more remote areas as it becomes available. This could encourage companies to open branches in rural areas and offer new job opportunities to help boost the local economy.

When you talk about AT&T spending more than $1 billion in the state during the past six years, what types of projects do those dollars go toward?

AT&T’s local investment expands access to its 4G LTE network, to AT&T U-verse services and brings powerful fiber-optic connections to more Arkansas businesses. Last year, AT&T made 541 network upgrades in Arkansas, including new cell sites, addition of wireless and wired network capacity, new broadband network connections and installing distributed antenna systems in venues like the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Last year, AT&T also expanded the reach of its network, providing access to U-verse Internet and video services to nearly 20,000 new customer locations and delivering fiber-optic connections to 1,432 business locations at 50 multitenant business buildings and business parks. Last year, we also introduced Digital Life in Central Arkansas, AT&T’s new home security and automation service that uses smartphones, tablets and PCs to simplify management of homes.



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