When Randall Stephenson became AT&T Inc.'s chief executive, the company had just started offering the iPhone. The blockbuster device has since reeled in millions of new customers and helped revitalize the telecom giant's brand.
But AT&T's exclusive deal to carry the iPhone in the U.S. expires next year, according to people familiar with the matter, and Mr. Stephenson is now in discussions with Apple Inc. to get an extension until 2011.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment, saying only, "We have a great relationship with AT&T."
Mr. Stephenson also is seeking to overhaul AT&T's marketing to make wireless the priority. The next step, he said, is to do away with a requirement that customers have AT&T's home-phone service to qualify for discounts on TV or broadband Internet services. Being a wireless customer should be enough, he said.
"We have 77 million wireless customers and 30 million consumer phone lines," Mr. Stephenson said in a recent interview at AT&T's headquarters in Dallas, where he moved the company last summer. "Which customer base would you rather work from? We tend to come at this backwards."