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Last time, you voted Nokia as the top smartphone supplier. But what about those who supply the signals to its gadgets? Which telecom stock are you buying? Read on for our Foolish take on the top five, then vote for your pick!
Telecom is a richer business than you think -- at least, according to the U.S. government. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the feds are looking into whether large U.S. telecom providers are abusing monopoly power.
Ma Bell may once again be Uncle Sam's primary target. According to the Journal, the feds are concerned about exclusive agreements between telcos and smartphone makers. In this case, "agreements" could refer to just one: AT&T's highly profitable distribution deal with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) for the iPhone.
Yet exclusivity may not be much of an advantage. Verizon's wireless group already distributes the BlackBerry, and it will soon add the Pre -- and perhaps even the iPhone.
So don't discount Ma or her babies; each of them has its own advantages. Let's review all five candidates before we open the polls:
AT&T (NYSE: T )
Cheap by classic valuation metrics, Ma Bell also enjoys strong wireless growth thanks to the iPhone. Mix in a better-than-6% dividend yield and its highly regarded U-verse offering for Internet-based home entertainment, and this old lady looks younger than she has in years.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ )
AT&T's biggest rival is tops in wireless network reputation, and a fast mover in that segment of the market, with 12.4% revenue growth in 2008. Verizon also seems to be the network that every smartphone vendor wants to work with -- an enviable position.
Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S )
Another swimmer in the "exclusive agreement" pool, Sprint also benefits from being the sole supplier of Palm's (Nasdaq: PALM ) Pre until at least January. It's also cheap enough to get noticed by our Motley Fool Inside Value team.
Qwest (NYSE: Q )
I'd dearly love to see my local telco succeed. The good news? Cash still flows freely to its coffers. The bad? Qwest pays more than $1 billion in interest each year, and it has no wireless network to speak of.
Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR )
The would-be WiMAX kingpin is teaming with Sprint Nextel in a race to be the first to deploy a national fourth-generation telecom network that delivers voice and data at very high speeds.
Which of these five gets your vote? Who else would you prefer? Drop in a comment below and let us know what you think.