The 58-year-old executive leads AT&T’s biggest division. Communications serves some 100 million mobile, broadband and pay-TV customers in the U.S., as well as millions of business customers. In 2018, the telecom unit generated $145 billion in revenue, 80% of the company’s total.
In announcing Donovan’s retirement, AT&T said it would replace him “soon.”
Prior to joining the company as Chief Technology Officer in 2008, Donovan held executive positions at Verisign, InCode Telecom Group and Deloitte Consulting.
Donovan’s departure comes as AT&T works to combine and organize its sprawling asset portfolio and pay down debt, which stood at $162 billion at the end of June.
It also has been in the midst of a rebranding effort for “skinny bundle” TV service AT&T Now, formerly known as DirecTV Now. The company has also announced a pilot launch of AT&T TV, a new bundled service that the company expects to be a centerpiece of its TV efforts. Wall Street analysts and company observers have noted the wide range — some would call it a glut — of pay-TV offerings, spanning DirecTV satellite, U-verse cable, mobile offering AT&T Watch and now the two internet-delivered bundles.
Earlier this summer, Donovan promised AT&T TV would “radically reshape what your concept of television is.” Stephenson has called it the “workhorse” of the stable.
“JD is a terrific leader and a tech visionary who helped drive AT&T’s leadership in connecting customers, from our 5G, fiber and FirstNet buildouts, to new products and platforms, to setting the global standard for software-defined networks,” Stephenson said in the official announcement. “He led the way in encouraging his team to continuously innovate and develop their skill sets for the future. We greatly appreciate his many contributions to our company’s success and his untiring dedication to serving customers and making our communities better. JD is a good friend, and I wish him and his family all the best in the years ahead.”
Added Donovan, “It’s been my honor to lead AT&T Communications during a period of unprecedented innovation and investment in new technology that is revolutionizing how people connect with their worlds,” said John Donovan. “I’m looking forward to the future – spending more time with my family and watching with pride as the AT&T team continues to set the pace for the industry.”