New Report Expects T-Mobile Acquisition Will Drive Further 4G Consolidation
AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA is bold and slightly unexpected move in a consolidating marketplace. It lifts AT&T well clear of Verizon Wireless and the rest of the competition and will accelerate the early development of 4G LTE services in the country. Strategy Analytics believes Sprint, Clearwire and LightSquared will be the big losers and this adds weight to closer collaboration between those three: the loss of a potential 4G wholesale customer in a market where the top two significantly larger carriers can dictate the pace of development puts all three under pressure to re-focus their mobile broadband strategies. Coupled with Sprint's isolation in the middle of the market, further changes over the next 12-18 months are highly likely.
AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA will help to accelerate the early deployment of 4G, but throws the viability of the mobile broadband strategies of Sprint, Clearwire and LightSquared into doubt.
The acquisition lifts AT&T clear of Verizon Wireless–giving those two carriers a combined 75% share of all wireless connections. Although the regulatory approval process will be far from straightforward, this is a level of consolidation which is not unusual by international standards. Strategy Analytics believes that it is good news in terms of driving faster 4G deployment, even though it does put significant pressure on the other carriers in the emerging mobile broadband market and will drive more consolidation there.
"The acquisition has clear pros and cons for the US 4G market," comments Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Director, Mobile Broadband Opportunities (MBO), speaking from CTIA in Orlando, Florida. "A 4G battle between the top two will be good news for consumers looking for better coverage and more device and service options with better LTE penetration sooner. However, that greater choice will be from fewer carriers, so the competition will need to reorganize in order to succeed."
Accelerates LTE Deployments,
Puts Pressure on Sprint."
Sue Rudd, Director, Service Provider Analysis (SPA) at Strategy Analytics, adds, "Competitors are already struggling to be viable. Clearwire is re-organizing to reduce costs. Even though LightSquared closed deals Leap and Best Buy this week, there are probably too many 4G wholesale networks going after too few large wholesale customers. Sprint, despite its 'sizzle' at CTIA this week, is likely to remain a distant third. Both AT&T and Verizon will need Sprint in order to pre-empt anti-trust issues. Strategy Analytics sees many countries where the top three players manage profitable 'co-opetition.'"
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Strategy Analytics, Inc. provides timely and actionable market intelligence focused on opportunities and disruptive forces in the areas of Automotive Electronics and Entertainment, Broadband Connected Home, Mobile & Wireless Intelligent Systems and Virtual Worlds. Headquartered in Boston, MA, with offices in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, S. Korea and China, Strategy Analytics works with clients through annual multi-client services, management team workshops and custom consulting engagements.