​Jeff Kagan: Expect Wireless M&A Activity to Intensify​

Jeff Kagan  |

Expect mergers and acquisitions to pick-up steam. There are several potential mergers in the wireless and telecom space that I am keeping my eyes on. Many expected Comcast to merge with another company to provide wireless service in competition with AT&T (T) DirecTV NOW and their wireless TV. Now that Comcast (CMCSA) is heading down the wireless path on their own, what else can we expect?

Charter Spectrum (CHTR), like Comcast needs a wireless play. So, does Cox and every other cable television company if they want to continue to be a player going forward. Will these cable television companies acquire a wireless company, or will they do business with a wireless carrier as an MVNO like Comcast is doing with Verizon (VZ

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Wireless spectrum auctions say Dish Network may be one to watch. They acquired spectrum, once again. Yet today they have no wireless play. Not yet anyway. Will they, is the question? And if so, what will it look like? Will they merge with another player or will they strike a re-sale deal similar to what Comcast Xfinity Mobile is doing with Verizon Wireless?

Comcast, Dish, Charter Must Go Wireless to Compete with AT&T DirecTV

Sprint (S) continues to show strong growth. They don’t need to merge, but they may do so since the marketplace is moving in that direction. Who would they merge with? Speculation says perhaps T-Mobile (TMUS). If not, there are other deals that would make sense. Sprint has plenty of spectrum and plenty of options.

T-Mobile was one of the big players in the wireless spectrum auction along with Dish (DISH). There are several potential deals they may play a role in. Remember, there are many non-wireless companies who want to enter this area. Either way, with this newly acquired spectrum, T-Mobile is in a better position to compete.

Verizon has enough spectrum. I believe they will move forward on offering a new television and wireless TV service like AT&T with DirecTV. What form will that take? Good question. Will they partner with a television provider like Dish? Will they acquire? Don’t know yet, but expect something from them this year. Not only is television an important growth area, but wireless TV is increasingly important going forward.

AT&T DirecTV is Changing TV

Why are all these companies revving their engines in the wireless space? Simple. The AT&T acquisition of DirecTV changed everything. This gives AT&T a solid new growth track as they continue to transform and merge the television space with wireless and telecom.

AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and Sprint were not really players in this auction. They have plenty of spectrum. T-Mobile, which had very little, now has spectrum. Now, Dish and Comcast also have spectrum. Suddenly the players are fully loaded. The only question is what comes next?

I get the sense that we are about to see the wireless industry really accelerate with change, innovation and growth. However, not all players will be successful. Choosing the winners in advance is always the challenge.

It all depends on how well each of the player’s market and position themselves in the marketplace. Something that has been a sticky point for many over the years.

Remember, winning at wireless is not easy. Several years ago, we saw Facebook flop. We saw Amazon Fire Phone flop. We saw the cable television companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and others, flop. Each of these companies were in and out so quickly it made our head spin watching the disaster.

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile Have Plenty of Spectrum

So, what makes these companies think they can be successful this time around? That’s the million-dollar question. Success in wireless is not guaranteed, but it is necessary this time. Last time it was just another idea for growth that didn’t work out. This time around companies like AT&T DirecTV are changing everything and threatening the status-quo.

So, every competitor now needs to not only enter but be successful at wireless. Who will be successful and who will miss the mark? That’s the big question. Let’s keep our eyes on all the players. Either way, expect wireless to play an increasingly important role for many companies going forward.

Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan

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