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Mergers and Acquisitions of the Top Wireless Telecommunications Companies

Choosing a wireless phone provider is a big decision. From the service cost per month to coverage in your location, some people become loyal to particular providers and stay with them for years. Because of that, many smaller wireless providers have been acquired by bigger ones that have a larger coverage area and are able to provide service to more people. Some of these wireless company acquisitions have been worth billions of dollars.

Wyoming Trust and LLC Attorney researched the biggest wireless companies in the United States to create a timeline of some of the most notable mergers and acquisitons that these wireless phone carriers have made through the years.

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Mergers and Acquisitions of the Top Wireless Telecommunications Companies - Wyoming LLC Attorney Asset Protection - Infographic

Major Wireless Carrier Mergers and Acquisitions Through the Years

The biggest wireless company in the United States is AT&T Mobility, sometimes simply referred to as AT&T. The company provides cell service throughout the United States and was originally known as Cingular Wireless (part of a joint venture between telecom giants BellSouth and SBC Communications) until 2006. The company rebranded under the AT&T name and has had many acquisitions since then, making it one of the major telecom companies for wireless service in the United States.

One of AT&T Mobility's most notable acquisitions was Cellular One in 2007, which was previously owned by Dobson Communications. It added nearly 2 million subscribers to the AT&T network and helped expand coverage to existing subscribers in rural and suburban areas.

Over the years, AT&T has acquired many cellular phone companies including Alltel, Cricket Wireless, Leap Wireless, and Centennial Communications. Many of these companies were regional carriers that helped AT&T expand their mobile networks.

In March of 2011, AT&T attempted to acquire T-Mobile US, which is one of the other large wireless companies in the U.S. The deal was set for $39 billion. However, there were antitrust concerns regarding the merger and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the takeover. The deal would have given AT&T a 43% market share of mobile customers in the United States. Eventually, AT&T withdrew their bid in December 2011.

In 2007, AT&T became the exclusive carrier for Apple's very first iPhone. More than 1 million iPhones were sold in the first three days of its launch. It was the only carrier for the iPhone until the iPhone 4 launched on the Verizon network in 2011. AT&T continued to be a major carrier for the iPhone, and in Q4 of 2012, they activated more than 8 million iPhone 5s.

The next largest cell phone company in the U.S. is Verizon (sometimes known as Verizon Wireless). It was established in 2000 and had more than 144 million subscribers at the end of 2023. The company, which is headquartered in New Jersey, was formed via the merger of Bell Atlantic and Vodafone. Their wireless network services about 90% of the U.S. population.

One of Verizon's most notable purchases was Tracfone in 2021. This acquisition not only gave Verizon the Tracfone brand, but its other subsidiaries like Straight Talk, Safelink, and Total by Verizon. This acquisition brought 20 million new subscribers to Verizon. The deal was worth up to $6.9 billion.

Some of Verizon's other local wireless acquisitions include West Virginia Wireless, SureWest Wireless, and Rural Cellular Corporation, which helped many mobile phone companies expand their service areas.

T-Mobile US, Inc. is another wireless company in the United States that has acquired many other providers. The company has headquarters in Bellevue, WA and Overland Park, KS. T-Mobile is tied to the spin off of VoiceStream Wireless PCS from Western Wireless Corporation in 1994.

The Sprint T-Mobile merger is one of the most notable in the telecommunications industry. In 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint announced their intention to merge their services. It was initially approved by the U.S. Justice Department but received some blowback from attorneys generals in several states. The merger finally closed in 2020 and the two companies became one.

T-Mobile also acquired Mint Mobile in 2023. Mint Mobile has been known for their low prices and actor Ryan Reynold's ownership in the company. Reynolds has also appeared in many commercials promoting the company. Although T-Mobile officially acquired Mint Mobile and its subsidiaries, Reynolds agreed to stay on as a spokesperson for the brand.

Some telecom companies also act as holding companies for their mobile operations, particularly in other countries. If you’re looking to form your own LLC holding company, or to form an LLC or corporation, look no further than Wyoming LLC Attorney.

Mobile Company Acquisitions and Mergers Through the Years

AT&T Mobility

Established 2006

241.5 million subscribers

Cingular Wireless2006
Cellular One2007
Centennial Communications2008
Wayport, Inc.2008
NextWave Wireless2013
Leap Wireless2014
Cricket Wireless2014


Established 2000

144.6 million subscribers

West Virginia Wireless2006
SureWest Wireless2008
Rural Cellular Corporation2009
TracFone Wireless2021
Straight Talk Wireless2021
Total Wireless2021
SafeLink Wireless2021
Net10 Wireless2021

T-Mobile US

Established 1994

119.7 million subscribers

VoiceStream Wireless Inc.1994
Omnipoint Corporation2000
Aerial Communications Inc.2000
SunCom Wireless Holdings2007
Mint Mobile2023
Ultra Mobile2023