AT&T still keen on a European mobile network acquisition... for the right price

AT&T still keen on a European mobile network acquisition... for the right price

Summary: AT&T continues to flag its interest in bringing a US-style data consumption to Europe.

TOPICS: Mobility, Telcos, EU, AT&T

AT&T could make a leap over to Europe's debt-ridden and revenue constrained telecoms market if a deal was available at the right price.

On the heals of Verizon's $130bn buyout of Vodafone's stake in the company, AT&T has repeated its interest Europe as chances for consolidation in the US remain slim in the face of regulators keen to see at least four major mobile players in the country.

"If there were opportunities that presented a good value, of course we would do it," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at an investor conference Tuesday in New York, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The statements aren't that surprising, given Stephenson's frequent visits to the continent and ongoing search for a European acquisition, as the Financial Times reported in June. The company was also said to be in talks with the Spanish government over Telefonica, which has a significant presence across Europe.  

According to the WSJ, AT&T sees a chance to bolster mobile data consumption in Europe, which has struggled to keep pace with US investments in LTE networks.

A report by mobile trade association the GSMA earlier this year highlighted that nearly 20 percent of US mobile subscribers were on 4G LTE compared with under two percent in Europe. In the US, revenues per user are nearly twice that of many major markets in Europe, yet consumers in the US used twice as much data.

But a move to Europe would come with risks for the US carrier. AT&T's Stephenson noted that the standardisation of spectrum regulation is a particular problem in Europe and that licences in Europe only last 10 to 12 years compared to the indefinite licences available in the US.

The European Commission hopes to address spectrum issues in a telecoms package unveiled last month in the hope of accelerating investment by the mobile industry, which have also been hampered by the sluggish release of spectrum by some nations

Further reading

Topics: Mobility, Telcos, EU, AT&T

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Other way around

    I am not really well versed in this stuff, so I would love to be enlightened by my neighbors across the pond, but given how much more affordable it sounds like service is in Europe, wouldn't we rather have *their* model come here? Good 3G service is hardly noticeably distinguishable from LTE for the kinds of stuff most people do on their mobiles. It's not really bandwidth that's the problem. Its accessibility, reliability and affordability.
    x I'm tc
  • AT&T in Europe?

    From what I have seen from consumer perspective Europe is much better. More competition, lower prices, much cheaper data plans and higher data limits.
    AT&T coming to Europe can only mean 2 year contracts and higher prices with maybe a phone subsidy thrown in. Be prepared for 100 euro/month phone service. That of course would not start right away. AT&T has to buy enough local service providers first.