WSJ: AT&T considering a merger in Europe

By , Jan 17, 2013

AT&T Chicago store (interior 001)

Faced with constraints on growth at home, U.S. carrier AT&T is reportedly considering entering new markets in Europe via a merger with one of the key players in a major European market such as the United Kingdom, Germany or the Netherlands, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The carrier is allegedly hoping to bring its technological expertise in building 4G networks to the table.

European telcos have been slow to roll out fourth-generation networks so AT&T through its European partner could help roll out the latest in 4G technology in order to then introduce “more lucrative pricing strategies”. European carriers get most of their revenue from voice plans and text messaging, unlike in the United States where telcos have shifted to new plans that charge subscribers based on their data use… 

AT&T is said to be in the process of evaluating potential partners, but don’t expect any such deal to come through before the end of the year.

According to the Journal:

It couldn’t be learned whether AT&T is engaged in negotiations with European carriers or which companies it might be circling. European carriers including Royal KPN NV, KPN.AE +3.62% the biggest telecom company in the Netherlands and Everything Everywhere, one of the biggest wireless carriers in the U.K., are on AT&T’s radar, the people said.

Latin American telecom giant América Móvil has a 28 percent stake in KPN. América Móvil’s owner, the controversial tycoon Carlos Slim, is a close friend of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

As for Everything Everywhere (EE), UK’s first 4G operator co-owned by Deutsche Telekom AG and France Télécom SA, Mobile News reported today that EE is reshuffling its retail strategy by closing 78 of its 700 retail stores by the end of April. Additionally, all T-Mobile, Orange and Everything Everywhere stores will get converted to new EE outlets from October 2012 onwards.

US regulators said ‘no’ to AT&T’s high-profile merger with T-Mobile USA and with Softbank’s acquisition of Sprint and Sprint’s Clearwire deal, AT&T is facing more competitive pressure on its home turf.

AT&T yesterday announced it will open up Apple’s FaceTime to cellular for all tiered data plans, not just people who signed up for AT&T’s shared family plans. The carrier also said it saw ‘best-ever’ smartphone sales in the holiday quarter thanks to Apple and Android devices.

AT&T in the U.S. was Apple’s exclusive network partner when the company launched the iPhone on June 2007. The Dallas, Texas company has more than a hundred million subscribers in the US, making it the third largest company in Texas and seventh largest company in the United States by total revenue.

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  • Johnathan Jennings

    Hope so,, so when I go to Europe in June I can call home without paying $50 a minute.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1016087499 Ruud Dé Brûíñ

    Article is sloppy, incorrect and generalizing; as in the US shifting to data plans already took place, nobody texts here any more; whatsapp and the likes rule. Calling is more and more done by inexpensive voip apps. As for 4G; the slow rollout here is due to very pricey frequency auctions that brought governments a lot of money. As for NL; KPN is, as we speak rolling out (with a incredible speed and a travelling circus of 250 workers replacing it’s entire network) a 4G network which will be operational in large parts of the country within a couple of month and so is competitor T-Mobile. Both on all available frequencies (800, 1800 and 2400). As for naive expectations of US-Europe roaming; any merger won’t change that a bit. Roaming pricing is decided by two parties: the connecting telco and the connect to telco, both regarding roaming as a milk cow.

    • pauleebe

      Data is definitely the primary monetizer for mobile cellular companies, and as such they have moved to grant unlimited minutes and texts to consumers instead of unlimited data. But, I don’t know a soul that actively uses WhatsApp (or comparable apps) much more compared to texting or iMessage. Are people using data “more and more” for VOIP and data texting? Sure, but you’re a fool for assuming that usage far exceeds traditional phone calls and SMS (or iMessage).

      Can you provide sources in regards to AT&T’s LTE roll out being limited to spectrum being unavailable? Their 2G network is virtually shut off and that bandwidth is being refarmed for LTE.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1016087499 Ruud Dé Brûíñ

        I can not provide data on At&T since they don’t work in Europe yet. But I do know from numerous articles in NL (alas in Dutch) about smart phone users here rarely using sms anymore, and start using voip more and more, since the G3 networks here deliver enough bandwith (in most cases) Here’s an article from Jan.2012 on whatsapp penetration in NL. 5mil. on a population of 16mil. (all ages) . my estimation is that its now 80-90% whatsapp penetration.

  • pauleebe

    Or, here’s an idea, AT&T: Fix your broken network in the US, and your horrible customer service, and match your LTE rollout to be at least half of that of Verizon.

    • Falk M.

      Haha, very true.

      Pretty funny to hear that AT&T would have superior expertice in LTE roll out speed. >D

  • Falk M.

    Thanks guys, but I think we’ll pass.

    You can keep your crappy AT&T.

    Very satisfied with LTE expansion speed here in Germany, it’s certainly not slower than in the US lol

    Deutsche Telekom’s got me served well ;P