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AT&T eyes European acquisition to speed up 4G LTE adoption

AT&T wants to takeover a European mobile phone operator as long as a deal is available and the price is right.

The US mobile phone operator has its eyes on European operators so that it can help to speed up the development of data consumption methods to be more in line with its home country.

"If there were opportunities that presented a good value, of course we would do it," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at an investor conference Tuesday in New York, report the Wall Street Journal.

AT&T has been eyeing up European investments for some time with ZDNet reporting that Stephenson’s frequent sojourns to the continent are being done to sniff out the very best acquisition target. The Financial Times have already reported AT&T is in talks with the Spanish government over taking a stake in Telefonica, which has a presence all over Europe including in the UK.

Speeding up 4G LTE adoption across Europe is thought to be one of AT&T’s motivators for entering the market with GSMA reporting earlier this year that 20 per cent of US subscribers had adopted 4G LTE compared to just two per cent in Europe.

The UK is one of the leading countries when it comes to 4G LTE in Europe with the four largest mobile operators having already launched networks or in the process of doing so.

EE was the first to launch a 4G network when it did so back in 2012 and its network now claims to cover 60 per cent of the country with the hope that 99 per cent will have coverage by the end of 2014. Vodafone and Telefonica-owned O2 went live at the end of last month and the fourth network, Three, is launching its own 4G network in December with a free upgrade for all 3G customers.