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Spectrum

Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks?

What a difference a year makes.

With the successful completion of major mergers by Sprint and T-Mobile US, the top echelon of the U.S. mobile market appears to be more competitive than it has been in a while.

This might directly affect the smaller American operators, too, though. It seems possible that AT&T Inc.'s $1.2 billion bid for Leap Wireless could precipitate a spectrum snatch by the larger service providers.

Our readers are already speculating on which other smaller operators could be bought up. U.S. Cellular is an early name in the frame.

Options to buy quickly dwindle though. There just aren't that many large independent regional U.S. wireless operators left now. Other possibilities, however, include C Spire, Cincinnati Bell and Ntelos. C Spire for instance -- formerly Cellular South -- is estimated to have fewer than a million subscribers.

After Leap, there's no quick way for any of the big four to add mass amounts of customers and spectrum by buying smaller rivals. I suspect that some of the smaller operators will get snatched up, but big operators are going to have to look for other ways to compete and innovate.

What's your bet for the next regional operator to get bought up?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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brookseven 7/18/2013 | 3:52:37 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? Its not just spectrum....can you buy instead of build.

seven
DanJonesLRMobile 7/17/2013 | 7:17:39 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? How much spectrum do you really need in Alaska though?
brookseven 7/17/2013 | 6:32:51 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? How about that combined cell carrier in Alaska...the one of the two alaska iocs?

seven
Jerry01 7/17/2013 | 5:43:27 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? Yes your a glorified MVNO of Verizon's network, your Cap Ex with no control of features with Generic devices that come out once Verizon not taking up the production line.
DanJonesLRMobile 7/17/2013 | 5:02:40 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? Yeah, those local rural LTE deals were pretty canny weren't they?
Jerry01 7/17/2013 | 4:58:53 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? I agree Dan, Bluegrass would fill and 850MHz hole in KY for VzW and has a LRA deal with them for LTE. With that LTE LRA deal VzW just about owns them now. I think we named most of them there is Inland Cellluar and Stata Networks out west but most of these are real small rural carrier with ILEC ownership. They all lost another 20% this month of USF support so we will see how long they can last with all the pressure on them.
DanJonesLRMobile 7/17/2013 | 2:21:50 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? Yeah, Bluegrass certainly seems to have upped its profile over the last year. I think spectrum and not subscribers are going to be key here.
Jerry01 7/16/2013 | 11:18:54 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? There are some rural carriers left that might be a snack for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile. Dan did a good job of mentioning a few of them. A couple others might be Blue Grass, Carolina West, Cell-com or Appalachian. Some of these companies have family ownership that will have a hard time letting go even for a good offer, C-Spire and US Cellular are have this situation. Others that might be Sprint targets now that they have a pile of cash, Pioneer, NexTech and Cross. Cincinnati-Bell will be hard to handicap, they have the same network technology as T-Mobile and AT&T, but both have over built them so its a spectrum play for either carrier in a limited area they already cover. Interesting article and stay tuned for more mergers!
MordyK 7/16/2013 | 7:55:39 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? This price issue may have been why they were having a hard time merging with MetroPCS in the past and why they may not have been included in the T-Metro tie-up.
DanJonesLRMobile 7/16/2013 | 1:13:34 PM
re: Smaller US Operators to Become Spectrum Snacks? Are there any obvious targets for Verizon in the mix?
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