AT&T’s intended takeover of T-Mobile was supposed to give AT&T access and control of badly needed spectrum. The demands on spectrum are growing faster than Apple can sell iPhones. Unfortunately, while AT&T was busy trying to consume the 4th largest wireless provider in the United States and fighting with the Department of Justice, Verizon was quietly moving to buy up the undeveloped spectrum held by the major cable providers (a completely different bedtime story for the DOJ to dream about…as they apparently are starting to do).
The result? Verizon’s spectrum purchases have gobbled the available spectrum that might have otherwise been available for an AT&T purchase.
T-Mobile, the long-suffering ‘we don’t have enough spectrum’ player, also missed out on the opportunity to buy spectrum from the cable providers.
Both AT&T and T-Mobile are desperate for spectrum, so what are they to do?
The DOJ, as we have all learned, has a big problem when the number 2 and number 4 providers attempt to merge (something having to do with a little thing called Antitrust).
Might the next baby step for AT&T be to acquire MetroPCS? Maybe that’s T-Mobile’s next bid, too.
It makes sense for both AT&T and T-Mobile to be interested in acquiring MetroPCS because it has a nationwide PCS footprint that is only growing with its all-you-can-eat, no contract approach.
Or maybe the next step is more of a LEAP (Wireless, that is, which has been rumored to be an acquisition target).
Two things are for sure: First, AT&T needs more paired frequencies, and they need them yesterday Second, T-Mobile either has to mate with one or more smaller regional carriers, or try mating with Sprint. AT&T’s parting gift to T-Mobile of $4B for the failed marriage would make a lovely trousseau.