FRAMINGHAM (03/02/2000) - SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. both responded with a terse "no comment'' to a news report that they plan to merge their cellular telephone properties to create a nationwide colossus capable of competing with wireless networks operated by AT&T, Sprint and Bell Atlantic.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the two companies "are in talks to merge their U.S. cellular phone properties.'' A BellSouth spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying "it is our policy not to comment on mergers or acquisitions.'' An SBC spokesman made a similar comment.
BellSouth has 5.3 million customers, located primarily in its southeast U.S. service area. SBC has 11.2 million cellular telephone customers located in California, the Southwest and the Midwest. A combined SBC/BellSouth cellular phone network would rank just behind a Bell Atlantic/Vodafone Airtouch joint venture which will have more than 20 million wireless customers and ahead of AT&T Wireless and Sprint, which have 12 million and 6 million cellular customers respectively.