Originally published: March 24, 2011
Last updated: April 28, 2011 - 11:25am
Handset manufacturers at the wireless industry's trade show mostly downplayed or kept silent about the potential loss of one of their largest customers in T-Mobile USA, even as they were inundated with questions about the proposed blockbuster deal.
Two days into the usually device-centric CTIA Wireless industry conference, AT&T's $39 billion deal for Deutsche Telekom AG's US wireless arm remained the show's dominating theme. However, it has proven to be an awkward topic that was discussed in closed quarters but not publicly. "It's been 48 hours," said Hans Vestberg, chief executive of telecom equipment maker L.M. Ericsson Telephone. "It's too early to comment." The public silence comes partly because companies had little time to process the deal. Many were still preparing for their own announcements, with some only finding out when they arrived in Orlando. The reluctance also may reflect the fear of angering a powerful customer. AT&T, the No. 2 carrier in the nation, is poised to have even more bargaining power over the industry if it completes the purchase of T-Mobile.