Cell Operators, the new Bell Cos?

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FCC and Justice Department have both given two thumbs up to the Cingular-AT&T Wireless merger. What a giant! With nearly 47.6 million customers across the country they are now ahead of Verizon Wireless by nearly 7 million customers. I guess given their size, one could expect them to exert more control over the handset makers and equipment suppliers. I hope the giant company rolls out faster wireless Internet sooner than later. One question that does come to mind: Are the wireless operators the new Bells? (Alternatively, the extend the grip of the Bells to the wireless space.) Merrill Lynch in a recent note pointed out that Verizon, “would like to get smaller with regard to its wireline business and is evaluating taking some clusters of primarily rural access lines and divesting them.” The focus will be wireless and fiber. Why? because there is going to be less regulatory meddling in these two services.

I think these companies are slowly going to show that wireless monopolies are more lucrative in the long run. Why? Because we are seeing a slow cultural shift, where people are forgetting their land-lines and switching entirely to wireless phones. Worldwide, nearly 45 million have foregone fixed connections for wireless connections. I was chatting with Allan Tumolilllo over at Probe Research, and he pointed out that we have an entire generation which has no wireline experience as part of growing up. They IM, they chat on the phone and they SMS. And if that is not enough, There are devices coming to market that turn wireless connections into near simile of fixed line connections.

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Jesse Kopelman

I’m pretty sure wireless co’s are the OLD Bells, considering the ownership stakes of Verizon, SBC, and Bellsouth. Nextel is now the ownly wireless co not controled by an old school telco — I wonder why they seem better managed than everyone else?

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