AT&T CEO: T-Mobile acquisition will immediately improve reliability

AT&T was noticeably silent about its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile during the CTIA Wireless 2011 tradeshow last week, but on Wednesday the company’s CEO, Randall L. Stephenson, took some time to discuss potential public benefits of the purchase. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, Stephenson argued that by purchasing T-Mobile, AT&T will increase capacity by 30% immediately while simultaneously increasing network reliability. AT&T predicts that network traffic could grow 5-8 times from where it is today over the next 5 years, and that kind of growth would require more spectrum capacity than is currently available. According to PCMag, Stephenson also said that the purchase would allow AT&T to cover 95% of the United States with a 4G network. When asked whether the purchase would create a AT&T/Verizon Wireless duopoly, Stephenson pointed to major markets where there are often five or more carriers to choose from, such as New York. That doesn’t include wholesale retailers such as Clearwire or LightSquared, both of which have signed on to sell Best Buy Connect branded 4G networks. Similarly, Stephenson stated that in Detroit, San Francisco, and in Miami, among other places, T-Mobile isn’t considered the No. 4 carrier. That kind of competition, Stephenson believes, will push prices down for consumers. Stephenson admitted that the acquisition could result in some job losses as the two companies integrate, but believes that the end result will be a “net job grower.”

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