AT&T Wireless Services Inc. today declined to comment on news reports that it has entered into discussions to acquire VoiceStream Wireless Corp., which is owned by Deutsche Telekom AG.
Deutsche Telekom has a standard policy against commenting on planned mergers or acquisitions, according to Jill Meiburg, a New York-based spokeswoman for Deutsche Telekom in Bonn, Germany. Rich Blasi, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless in Redmond, Wash., termed the Wall Street Journal's report of the VoiceStream acquisition "the rumor du jour."
In April, Bloomberg News Service reported that AT&T Wireless was in talks to acquire Cingular Wireless LLC in Atlanta.
AT&T Wireless, Cingular and Redmond, Wash.-based VoiceStream all operate cellular networks based on the European Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard and are aggressively adding data services based on the European General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) standard. United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp., two of the largest mobile wireless data users in the world, have said they intend to standardize on GPRS for their next-generation data needs because it is a global standard.
Alan Reiter, a telecommunications analyst at Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing in Chevy Chase, Md., said it would make sense for two of the GSM carriers in the U.S. to merge because the new company would provide users with improved coverage throughout the country.
AT&T Wireless and Cingular agreed in January to jointly build and operate GSM/GPRS networks along interstate corridors in the West and Midwest.
An acquisition of VoiceStream by AT&T Wireless would also provide revenue to Deutsche Telekom, which paid $30 billion for VoiceStream in 2000. The German government, which owns 43 percent of Deutsche Telekom, is pressing the company for management changes and a restructuring, according to the Journal.
AT&T Wireless has 19.5 million customers, VoiceStream has approximately 6 million, and Cingular has 22 million. Verizon Wireless in Bedminster N.J., is the country's largest cellular provider, with 29.4 million subscribers.