Stephenson was asked by Senator Franken, a former television comic, if the executive thought that the original launch of the Apple iPhone could have gone to a regional carrier instead of AT&T. Stephenson replied that he thought that Apple would not have wanted a smaller carrier for the launch and would rather have had a large national firm like AT&T handling the release of the handset.
A number of witnesses came out against the transaction. Cellular South CEO Victor Meena said that AT&T used its "market power" to get the iPhone exclusive which ended earlier this year when Verizon launched a CDMA version of the popular cell phone. Democrat Senator Klobuchar chimed in with statistics showing that AT&T owned 44% of the cell phone market, enabling them to get any device they want to offer.
CEO Stephenson downplayed the importance of the Apple iPhone on AT&T's growth, contradicting past statements that stated how important the device is to the growth of the carrier. AT&T has always noted that Apple's device was the top selling handset for AT&T ever since its 2007 launch and the company has always broken out sales of the phone separately when releasing earnings. By making the iPhone sound insignificant, AT&T can claim that its size did not allow it to report huge profits at the expense of smaller carriers.