AT&T wants to be number one in wireless
In the battle for wireless supremacy, AT&T would leapfrog past Verizon to become the nation's number one carrier. That's if it's merger with the number four provider, T-Mobile USA, goes through.
Randall Stephenson, Chariman and CEO of AT&T, says "together, we'll be able to do what neither of us could do by ourselves and that is, get to 95% coverage of the 4th generation networks across the United States."
The need for those 4G networks is being driven by Americans' increasing appetite for mobile technology, whether it's smart phones, tablet computers,
Or even in-car data services.
But that enhanced capability could come at a price.
Dan Ackerman, Tech Editor at CNET.com, says "If we go down to three major wireless carriers in the U.S. that will mean less competition on price, less competition on service, so you could see higher prices and more restrictions."
That's why the deal will get scrutiny over the next year from the Department of Justice and the FCC, which has already voiced concerns about market consolidation. Its report last year indicated AT&T and Verizon already shared 605 of the nation's subscribers. But some analysts say competition's not an issue.
John Hodulik, Tech Analyst at UBS, says "I think it's still a relatively robust market. The real big thing as we go into the future is the ability to provide data services."
And as the quest for customers continues, T-Mobile will continue to tweak its bigger potential partner.
Rene Obermann, CEO of T-Mobile, says "you can bet we still have some time before the deal gets closed. And therefore, we'll compete."
The question for consumers, is what happens when they don't. If the merger does go through, it could leave the nation's number three wireless carrier, Sprint Nextel, looking for a potential partner.
Prior to AT&T's announcement, there had been speculation about a possible deal combining T-Mobile with Sprint Nextel.