Editor's Corner

Wow. You don't have to reach far today to find something to talk about. AT&T wants to buy BellSouth for $67 billion in stock, and RIM and NTP ended their highly publicized standoff with a $612.5 million settlement.

Immediately, analysts and industry pundits heralded AT&T's purchase plans as the return of Ma Bell, which was forced to break up its monopoly in 1984. Indeed, the carrier will return to its Ma Bell state at least in the southern part of the U.S., and it will be interesting to see how regulators view the deal. It is certainly a different market more than 20 years later that doesn't lend itself to one operator dominating anymore. Cable operators and wireless operators are invading the turf of RBOCs, and VoIP is roaring in. Considered the most disruptive technology to reach the telecom industry, VoIP promises to fundamentally change the way regulators approach the telecom industry in the future.

VoIP eliminates the idea that substitutable services should be regulated differently depending on the platform or the nature of the service provider. Indeed, the FCC will take a light-touch approach to regulation of VoIP services because distance will no longer be relevant to the price of a call, mitigating any competitive concerns of telecom powerhouses dominating the market.

Of course, this is a futuristic view. The reality is that the majority of telecom services are based on location today. AT&T says there is no overlap of services with BellSouth such as local and enterprise services, but this is the first time two RBOCs have attempted to merge since the breakup of AT&T, which won't sit well with consumer advocates. In the end, if regulators OK this (and they likely will), the market will probably end up with a landscape that is at best a duopoly, consisting of an incumbent phone company (Verizon will surely counter with a Qwest buy), a big cable company and some little Vonage-like competitors. The question is, is that enough for the local market? It may be since wireless is emerging as a competitor to local telephony. More folks are pulling the plug on their landline and substituting their local service with wireless. And of course, wireless is the primary reason for the AT&T/BellSouth combo; but more about that below.

On another note... How Fierce is your company? FierceWireless will publish its annual and most highly acclaimed list of "The Fierce 15" top emerging companies in the wireless industry. If you are interested in having your company considered for the list, you must submit your pitch to me, Lynnette Luna, Executive Editor of FierceWireless, by Friday, April 14, via email to [email protected]

Your company must:
1. Have proven potential to advance the wireless industry or become an extreme financial success story.
2. Be privately held.
3. Not have been selected for a previous Fierce 15 list.
4. Must have a presence in the North American wireless industry or potential to impact it.

Your pitch should include company name and background info, PR contact, product/technology description, list of key partnerships and milestones, an explanation of how your product/technology will advance the wireless industry or become an extreme financial success story, and please include financial and user metrics so that we can evaluate the claims of your company.

I look forward to reading your pitches. - Lynnette