The diversification trend in the wireless industry is primarily driven by numerous technological advancements and isn't such a direct consequence of market saturation as some may be inclined to believe, according to Glenn Lurie, former CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Operations. "Technologies are converging and so are carriers' ambitions," Mr. Lurie told Android Headlines, adding that consumer expectations are another major factor that prompted many telecom giants to start expanding their reaches into new markets. Triple-play and quad-play bundles will become much more common in the near future as an increasing number of users start expecting to have "all of their services on a single bill," likely at a discounted price, the industry veteran suggested. While that shift already appears to have started in the United States, the diversification of wireless isn't a country-specific trend but one that will eventually encompass the entire world, the recently appointed CEO of Synchronoss Technologies said.
Mr. Lurie's former employer is presently pursuing diversification in an extremely aggressive manner, having concluded the purchase of DIRECTV for $48.5 billion in 2015 only to propose an $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner just a year later. While that deal is still pending following a lawsuit to block it filed by the U.S. Department of Justice this fall, most industry watchers expect it to eventually be approved given the lack of a judicial precedent for preventing vertical mergers in the country. Verizon has also been branching out in recent years, primarily by building a robust advertising business through the acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo which it combined into a division called Oath in 2017. T-Mobile appears to be emulating AT&T on a smaller scale, having completed the acquisition of Layer3 TV earlier today while reiterating its plans to take on big cable companies with a comprehensive and aggressively priced Internet TV service later this year.
Sprint is the only national carrier that hasn't announced any blockbuster M&A deals in recent times but its vast spectrum holdings also put it in a strong position to capitalize on the commercialization of 5G networks which are expected to be the next major step in wireless diversification, allowing telecom giants to create entirely new product categories and revenue streams, many of which are likely to be targeted at enterprise customers. With 5G deployment in the U.S. being scheduled to start no later than early 2019 and nationwide coverage being projected as an achievable goal for 2020, wireless diversification is likely to intensify in the near future.