If you thought the FCC’s recent approval of Verizon’s bid to buy-out Alltel and acquire Alltel’s expansive customer base would allow Verizon to easily surpass AT&T as the top wireless carrier in the US, think again.
AT&T has just announced that it will be acquiring Centennial Communications Corp. in a $944 million all-cash deal. The acquisition of Centennial will give AT&T an additional 1.1 million subscribers to add to their 74.9 million customers. Once finalized, the deal will bring AT&T closer to Verizon’s newly expanded customer-base, but will still fall short of retaking the lead as the largest (by subscriber count) wireless carrier in the US.
Verizon is currently in second place with 70.8 million customers, but will leap-frog past AT&T when it absorbs Alltel’s 13 million customers into its network – netting Verizon more than 83 million subscribers. The Verizon-Alltel deal has been approved on all fronts, so we’re likely to see AT&T dethroned as the No. 1 US wireless carrier in the near future.
As for AT&T, the Centennial deal will bring them closer to Verizon’ projecting subscriber count. But, more importantly, the deal will give AT&T greater coverage in rural areas of the Midwest and Southeast United States as well as in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Mobility is a vital investment area for AT&T and our company’s biggest growth driver,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. “This transaction enhances network coverage for our consumer and business customers and is expected to create long-term value for AT&T’s stockholders.”
AT&T hopes to have the deal approved and finalized by the second quarter of next year.