Last updated: April 28, 2011 - 12:30pm
AT&T’s audacious bid for Deutsche Telekom’s US mobile phone business has provided dramatic proof of how telecoms companies urgently need more radio spectrum to cope with booming consumer demand for smartphones. By buying T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in cash and stock, AT&T would obtain a large chunk of additional spectrum to support bandwidth-hungry smartphones and tablet computers. But the looming spectrum crunch in the US is providing grounds for optimism at two companies with very different business models to orthodox mobile phone operators such as AT&T.
Clearwire and LightSquared – which both hold significant amounts of spectrum – are betting they can have a prosperous future as wholesale network operators. Both are seeking to put their networks at the disposal of companies that want to provide consumers and businesses with high-speed mobile services. LightSquared and Clearwire have their critics, partly because their wholesale business model is anathema to much of the mobile industry.