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Archive for Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Sprint-AT&T wireless deal faces uncertain future

February 1, 2005

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— The planned merger of SBC Communication Inc. and AT&T Corp. has called into question the future of deal that would allow "Ma Bell" to sell wireless services to its business customers by renting space on Sprint Corp.'s network.

San Antonio-based SBC owns Cingular Wireless LLC in partnership with BellSouth. So if AT&T merges with SBC, analysts said, it would no longer need to partner with Sprint.

AT&T executives on Monday declined to say whether its deal with Sprint would stand or whether AT&T might now seek to forge an agreement to use Cingular's network.

Melinda Tiemeyer, a spokeswoman for Overland Park-based Sprint, said the merger talk wasn't affecting the agreement.

"Right now," she said, "there's not an impact."

But some analysts believe the deal's dissolution is inevitable. The question is when it will dissolve.

Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst in Atlanta, said it was possible Bedminster, N.J.-based AT&T would initially use Sprint to serve its business customers until the merger is complete, which could take a year or more.

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