You know that audacious $39 billion merger deal between AT&T
Ma Bell has faced huge hurdles to closing this deal from day one, including loud opposition from rival Sprint Nextel
The last Hail Mary play involved trying to sell off some of T-Mobile's assets to wireless rivals such as Leap Wireless
But the keyword here is might. Leap was reportedly the most serious asset buyer, but backed away from the table "amid concern that even with such sales, the deal was unlikely to win over the Justice Department."
What's Plan B?
So it's back to the lab again. Verizon
Go big or go home, they say. Ma Bell sure went big, and now goes home with her tail between her legs. The company could follow Verizon's lead and try to shake out licenses from non-telecoms who don't know what to do with theirs, or perhaps go on a less splashy acquisition spree among regional and rural telecoms -- Cincinnati Bell or Alaska Communications Systems
But those strategies would largely miss the true American metropolises by a country mile, and thus do little to improve AT&T's big-city services.
Oh yeah? Got any better ideas, Mr. Smartypants?
Sure. If I ran the show at AT&T, I'd tap a major infrastructure hardware player for a joint research venture, and then pour billions of research dollars into reaching true 4G (and then 5G) performance before anyone else. That way, the company could truly create American jobs and a very real business advantage, all without raising the bile of regulators. That proposed $39 billion deal is about 11 times Alcatel-Lucent's
I'm not holding my breath for a truly innovative move like that, of course. CEO Randall Stephenson would be railroaded out of the AT&T boardroom covered in tar and feathers for even suggesting such a thing. Instead, we'll see Ma Bell opening its checkbook for some other spectrum-rich takeover that doesn't require any fresh thinking.
AT&T may not be the most innovative knife in the drawer, but nearly 100 million wireless subscribers keep the cash flows healthy and dividends rock-solid. Check out the details of 11 never-say-die dividend ideas -- including AT&T.