Though consumers may view telecommunication giants AT&T and Verizon Communications as one and the same thing, employees of the two companies don’t. This is especially the case with regards to pay. At Verizon the median pay of employees is $127,000 while at AT&T the median pay is $78,000.
The discrepancy can however be explained by how the two companies operate. For instance AT&T is Texas-based and salaries in the state for similar jobs are usually lower compared to the Northeast where its rival is based.
While both firms emerged from the breakup of Ma Bell more than three decades ago, they have trodden different paths with the result that each has a business setup that demand different kinds of workers. Initially AT&T was Southwestern Bell and its expansion was fueled by making acquisitions of other landline operators. Verizon on the other hand was initially known as Bell Atlantic, or informally as the Northeastern Bell, and its primary focus was wireless services.
Consequently by virtue of the fact that it was heavily invested in landline operations, AT&T employs more ‘pole climbers’ – these are the workers who conduct maintenance, repair and installation works in the telecommunications industry. Additionally AT&T has more employees working in the regional offices according to principal and telecom industry analyst at Wave7 Research, Jeffrey Moore.
“It’s much more of a physical business. You’ve got to have a lot of low paid people to roll trucks and establish phone connections,” saidMoore.
With regards to their retail operations AT&T owns more of the stores compared to Verizon. While Verizon owns just over 20% of its retail stores, with the rest being dealer stores, the proportion of AT&T-owned retail stores is just a little under 40%. AT&T thus has more retail employees than Verizon and workers in this sector typically have lower pay.
Yet another factor that makes the median pay at AT&T almost 60% lower than the median pay at Verizon is outsourcing. Verizon has outsourced most of its low-wage jobs leaving it with a workforce of approximately 155,000 compared to 250,000 at AT&T. This is despite the fact that both have a geographic footprint that is similar.
This comes in the wake of an analyst at HSBC, Sunil Rajgopal, upgrading the stocks of both Verizon and AT&T to a buy. The analyst has consequently set a price target of $41 for AT&T and a price target of $55 for Verizon.