AT&T-Mobile: Here Are The Biggest Winners And Losers

Steve Jobs

AT&T just announced a deal to acquire rival T-Mobile USA in a $39 billion transaction.

If the government eventually approves the deal, it’s good news for AT&T, which will have a significant size advantage over its archrival Verizon Wireless.

But who else wins and loses?

WINNER: AT&T and Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega

If the government approves the deal, AT&T will become the biggest U.S. wireless provider by about 30 million subscribers. And Ralph de la Vega will have more purchasing power than just about anyone else in telecom.

And because AT&T will get access to additional wireless spectrum, its customers could eventually get better service.

At the end of 2010, AT&T had 95.5 million wireless subscribers and T-Mobile had 33.7 million subscribers, for a combined total of 129.2 million subscribers. Verizon Wireless had 94.1 million wireless customers.

WINNER: T-Mobile and parent Deutsche Telekom

If the deal goes through, Deutsche Telekom -- which has never executed very well in the U.S. -- will get to sit back and let AT&T do all the hard work, while getting an 8% stake in the company.

It's good news for T-Mobile customers, too: They get a reliable path to 4G LTE service, and access to more phones, such as Apple's iPhone.

LOSER: Verizon

Verizon won't have as much purchasing power as AT&T, and it may have to pay up for Sprint Nextel to scale up, if the government would even allow it.


Apple gets another ~30 million potential iPhone customers without having to make a special version of the phone for T-Mobile's weird 3G frequency.

WINNERS: FCC, DOJ, and other regulators

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski now has a huge opportunity to make a big mark.

This is his (and the DOJ's, and whoever else needs to sign off on this deal) chance to push through some big policy changes, or force AT&T to make some major concessions.

As it is, AT&T expects some major regulatory scrunity -- it warned that the deal may not close for 12 months.

LOSER: Sprint Nextel

Sprint used to be able to say, 'at least we're bigger than T-Mobile.'

Not anymore -- Sprint will officially be the runt of the U.S. wireless industry, and may have to find a buyer.

WINNER: U.S. Cellular

If Verizon can't buy Sprint, maybe it -- or maybe even Sprint -- will pluck up Chicago-based U.S. Cellular, which has 6 million customers.


T-Mobile wasn't the largest Google Android partner -- that's Verizon Wireless -- but it seems to be Google's most interested partner.

The new AT&T-Mobile may go big with Android, or maybe not. We don't really know yet.

MIXED RESULTS: Wireless equipment companies

The bad news is that they have one less customer, and may have to consolidate themselves to get some leverage back. And AT&T may be able to extract better rates and terms this way.

The good news is that there may be a LOT of work to do in the meantime.

WINNERS: Bankers

A $39 billion means lots of fees. And who knows what other deals will have to happen as a result of this mega-merger.

LOSER: Brightpoint

Brightpoint (ticker: CELL) gets more than 10% of its profits serving as T-Mobile's logistics provider, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek estimates. He says it's unlikely Brightpoint will make up for it with new business from AT&T.

Who are we missing?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll add them to the list.

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