AT&T CEO: Europe is ripe for mobile broadband investment

AT&T (NYSE:T) CEO Randall Stephenson continues to fan the flames when it comes to the telecom giant's likelihood of investing in a European telecom company. Stephenson, speaking yesterday in Brussels at an industry conference hosted by ETNO, the European telecommunications lobby, said that he continues to be fascinated by how slow mobile broadband is moving in Europe and therefore he thinks it is "a huge opportunity for somebody."

However, Stephenson also said that Europe needs to overhaul its regulatory policies on spectrum before it will be able to realize its potential. He urged the regulators to make it easier for telecom operators to invest in their networks and buy long-term spectrum licenses.  He added that the spectrum policies in Europe need to be similar from country to country.  "How you manage spectrum policy will determine how much investment comes to Europe," Stephenson said.

This isn't the first time Stephenson has kindled speculation about AT&T pushing into Europe. Last month, at a Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, Stephenson said AT&T would welcome significant deals in Europe at the right price. He also said the LTE and mobile data explosion that has overtaken the United States is migrating to Europe, and the market there is "going to evolve very quickly."

Nevertheless, analysts argue AT&T would face an array of challenges, including fragmented regulatory regimes, price-sensitive markets and not enough economies of scale to make a major deal worthwhile.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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