Verizon ' s Bid for Alltel - Implications for Sprint?

I heard the concrete rumors yesterday, but this topic has been one that folks have been speculating about for a long time. All morning long, people have been asking me what it means for Verizon Wireless?

Short answer: #1 wireless carrier in the US with 80M subscribers. Alltel adds 13M to their rising total.

Other highlights:

  • Common network technology and roadmap
  • Both use BREW
  • Similar ARPU though VZ has higher data ARPU
  • Fills in coverage gaps in rural areas
  • Cost synergies - $9B quoted in the press release. Always a lot of work to achieve.
     

Alltel is substantially smaller than Verizon, but is still a very large company.

 

Being smaller, Alltel has been nimble and able to roll out new services quickly. They were innovative with their friends/family circle plan being first to market in a category that T-Mobile has now become famous for. They have a great UI on their new handsets. Hopefully, this tradition of innovation with new product roll-outs will continue.

I think one of the more interesting questions could be: what does this mean for Sprint? Do they have enough scale to be cost competitive with the others? It's a question that I don't have the means to answer, but I'm sure some of the financial analysts will be. T-Mobile benefits from the scale (to a large extent) of their corporate parent in Europe though they lack the wired (local, long distance, TV) infrastructure and service offerings of AT&T and Verizon. Verizon's choice of LTE will give them a cost advantage. WiMax still seems to be Sprint's choice alone.

What does this mean more generally for players who aren't either really, really large? or MVNO's? Mixed models will still work. My grandmother's telco  that serves a population of several thousand is a profitable entity, but they rent/lease wireless from a larger network operator. Rural operators still have a play.

Will be interesting to watch.

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