Bigtime Mobile Consolidation: First Verizon/Alltel, Now ATT/Centennial

Are there too many mobile providers? That is a bigger question than I could possibly answer. But ATT and Verizon have made big moves this week toward further consolidation of the industry. Big stuff, people.

First was the FCC’s approval of Verizon’s acquisition of Alltel — a move that put the big V at the top of the heap subscriber wise, with over 80 MM subs.

Now ATT has announced a buyout of Centennial Wireless, a Midwest provider. This puts ATT’s subs total at 76 million.

I have to believe that both will continue to make such moves as they battle for that number one slot.

What of the timing? Well, might it relate to the upcoming change in Presidency, and the possibility that the incoming government will be less friendly to big mergers?

Oh, too big a question for my noggin, but the Verizon acq does represent the disappearance of a low cost alternative to the big lads. Though perhaps Verizon will have to make provisions for low cost plans given that they will lose those value oriented subs if they just jack the rates. With the declining barriers to brand switching, I would expect above average churn in both of these subscriber bases — I mean, there must have been a reason why someone chose a Centennial or an Alltel instead of the providers with the largest national footprints.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to write.