The New AT&T Wireless Is Sprint

This isn’t a huge surprise, considering that everyone expected this move back in March, but AT&T has made it official that they’ve signed an MVNO agreement with Sprint to use their network for their own wireless carrier offering. Just like Sprint’s deal with Virgin Mobile, Sprint gives AT&T the network, and AT&T does all the branding. They plan to offer bundled offerings that tie the mobile phone service to their local, long distance and VoIP offerings – all of which makes sense. What still hasn’t be made clear, however, is if they’ll go back to using the AT&T Wireless name. They get the rights back as soon as the current AT&T Wireless completes the deal to be acquired by Cingular (late this year). However, the AT&T Wireless name has such a bad reputation these days, they may be better off not doing so. Besides, the level of confusion among consumers probably isn’t worth it. Still, it is amusing to trace the history of AT&T’s wireless offerings from a startup they bought, to something they spun out, to something they wish they had again. Of course, maybe they get the last laugh. They got a lot of cash in spinning out AT&T Wireless and now they’ll have a wireless offering without actually having to run a network. Either way, it’s a bit amusing to see what will more or less amount to a “new entrant” in the space just as everyone was calling for the entire US wireless carrier market to consolidate. Derek: I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately that conclude that the one ATTWS-Cingular merger means less competition, and less price warring. All of them seem oblivious of the obvious onset of multiple MVNOs. Do they not think the inevitable WalMart MVNO will compete on price?

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