AT&T (NYSE:T) just announced a deal to acquire rival T-Mobile USA in a $39 billion transaction.
But who else wins and loses?
WINNER: AT&T (NYSE:T) and Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega
If the government approves the deal, AT&T (NYSE: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 (NYSE:T) will get access to additional wireless spectrum, its customers could eventually get better service.
At the end of 2010, AT&T (NYSE: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 (NYSE:VZ) 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 (NYSE: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 (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.
LOSER: Verizon (NYSE:VZ)
WINNER: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)
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, FTC, and other regulators
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski now has a huge opportunity to make a big mark.This is his (and the FTC’s, and whoever else needs to sign off on this deal) chance to push through some big policy changes, or force AT&T (NYSE:T) to make some major concessions.
As it is, AT&T (NYSE:T) expects some major regulatory scrunity — it warned that the deal may not close for 12 months.
LOSER: Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S)
Sprint (NYSE:S) 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.
WINNER: U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM)
Image: By KB35 on flickr
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.
TOO EARLY TO TELL: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)
T-Mobile wasn’t the largest Google Android partner — that’s Verizon Wireless — but it was one of the closest. 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.
A $39 billion means lots of fees. And who knows what other deals will have to happen as a result of this mega-merger.