CenturyTel-Qwest Combo: Where's the Wireless?

CenturyTel Inc., the fifth-largest local telecom in the US, is buying Qwest Communications International Inc., the third largest, in a $10.6 billion stock swap deal designed to let the combined company be a big fish in an ever-shrinking pond. But where's the wireless and broadband strategy? Here’s some analysis.

Assuming the deal goes through, the CenturyTel-Qwest hybrid will have 18 million phone lines in 37 states, but they’ll still have absolutely zero wireless network services. That’s a bad statistic when the number of landlines out there is getting smaller and smaller as customers go to cable company phone service or simply use their cell phone a lot more.

It's also noteworthy that CenturyTel is going to acquire $11.8 million of former Baby Bell Qwest's debt in the deal, which is going to put them on even worse footing. An Associated Press report says that CenturyTel’s post-merger strategy will to shore up their business by selling more broadband services to businesses, and possibly even selling TV services to cable.

Both companies combined have a massive customer footprint. But I can’t help feeling like without that critical cell phone and wireless data market, AT&T and Verizon are just going to keep on trouncing them.

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