updated 02:15 pm EST, Fri March 7, 2008
Qwest Talks with AT&T
Qwest chief Ed Mueller has confirmed that his company is in talks with AT&T to port its cellular service to the larger carrier's network. The executive validates earlier reports and raises the possibility that his company would be willing to switch its handsets from Sprint's CDMA network to AT&T's GSM-based service. The talks join already-confirmed negotiations with Verizon and will see a decision made "soon," Mueller says.
The expected switch stems from dissatisfaction with usage terms provided by Sprint, which has previously allowed Qwest to use its cellular network for a virtual wireless service. The smaller carrier has struggled to maintain its subscriber share and stem financial losses and has said that it hopes to make cellular access a more important component of its service, which is so far dominated by its landline and DSL services.
While converting its cellphone service to Verizon would be simpler and allow it to keep most of its existing lineup, adopting AT&T's network would provide Qwest with roaming access in Europe and most other parts of the world. It would also supply a greater variety of handsets and could potentially open access to the iPhone, though such an offer would require explicit permission from AT&T until its exclusive agreement with Apple ends in coming years.