In brief: AT&T on Friday announced that longtime CEO Randall Stephenson is retiring this summer. Stephenson joined AT&T as chief operating officer in 2005 through an acquisition of Southwestern Bell. Two years later, he took over as CEO for the outgoing Edward Whitacre and has held the position ever since.

During his tenure, Stephenson oversaw AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV as well as its mega merger with Time Warner.

AT&T said that effective July 1, 2020, AT&T President and Chief Operating Officer John Stankey will take over the lead position. Stephenson will stick around as executive chairman until next January, however, to help ensure a smooth transition.

Stankey's appointment concludes a succession plan that first began in 2017, AT&T noted, and included both internal and external candidates.

Stankey joined AT&T way back in 1985 and has overseen several segments of the business over the years. Most recently, he was appointed president and COO in October 2019.

Stephenson isn't the only major wireless provider boss to exit at the forefront of the 5G era. T-Mobile chief John Legere stepped down from his helm earlier this month as the company completed its merger with longtime rival Sprint in a deal that is expected to reshape the landscape of the entry-level market.

Image credit: Roman Tiraspolsky