What does the AT&T-T-Mobile mean for Sprint?
Things have just gotten a lot more complicated for No. 3 U.S. wireless operator Sprint Nextel, which has slowly been rebuilding its damaged brand and stemming heavy customer losses.
On Sunday, the No. 2 U.S. wireless operator AT&T announced plans to buy No. 4 wireless operator T-Mobile USA in a deal valued at $39 billion. If the acquisition is approved by regulators, it could spell big trouble for Sprint. The carrier which has been a distant third place to Verizon Wireless and AT&T, will be even further behind in terms of customers.
At the end of 2010, Sprint had about half the number of customers as Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Sprint ended 2010 with 49.9 million customers. Verizon had 102.2 million customers, and AT&T had about 95.5 million. If AT&T adds T-Mobile's 33 million customers, the new provider will have a total of about 129 subscribers. This is nearly three times as many customers as Sprint has.
"There's no question this puts Sprint in a very difficult position," said Kenneth Rehbehn, principal analyst at the Yankee Group.
Sprint recognizes that the imbalance will significantly change the industry. And in its statement issued Sunday night, the company urged regulators to take a close look at the merger.
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