Monday, October 24, 2011

Cable Deal for T-Mobile USA?

With the Justice Department having filed suit to block the proposed AT&T purchase of T-Mobile USA, what is T-Mobile's plan if the deal falls through? It doesn't appear that T-Mobile USA actually has had a "plan B." But many speculate that if the AT&T acquisition is blocked, it will also signal that Sprint will not be allowed to buy T-Mobile USA, either.

That will leave T-Mobile USA in a tough position, as it needs spectrum to launch Long Term Evolution, and will emerge from the merger process weakened in the retail market.

Bernstein Research senior analysts Robin Bienenstock and Craig Moffett say the most likely scenario is not a Sprint merger but a spectrum deal with cable operators Comcast and Time Warner, both of which own spectrum T-Mobile USA could use to launch LTE services. The cable operators could monetize their spectrum and provide backhaul services.

To the extent that cable operators sell a wholesale service, they might then use T-Mobile USA rather than Clearwire. That would be more bad news for Clearwire.

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