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Qwest Considers Replacing Sprint Nextel Wireless Contract Talks to AT&T

Date: 3/7/2008 2:11:32 PM

America’s third largest local telephone carrier, Qwest Communications, recently held talks with larger counterpart, AT&T Inc., which offers wireless services, about a partnership in the mobile phone market.

Several companies including AT&T and Verizon Communications have expressed interest in a deal with Qwest, which is thinking of dumping its current wireless partner of four years, Sprint Nextel, according to the landline carrier’s Chief Executive Officer, Edward Mueller.

Qwest is looking for a partner that can give its customers access to highspeed wireless internet services and advanced mobile phones, such as the popular Apple iPhone device.

“The iPhone’s kind of a leader,” Mueller said in an interview this week. “It’s almost like carrying your own laptop, with full functionality and a real cool device that gives you everything you would get if we were sitting here plugged in.”

Mueller says he’s also been speaking with Dan Hesse, the CEO of struggling wireless carrier, Sprint Nextel. The current agreement between the two companies expires 11 months from now, and Qwest has not ruled out renewing it. All 824,000 of Qwest’s current wireless subscribers are ultimately served by Sprint, making up about 1.5% of Sprint’s user base.

“My problem is more about us, not Sprint. We brand under Qwest. It’s not a Sprint issue,” Mueller said when asked about his willingness to replace the current agreement. “Dan and I didn’t talk about having a problem with Sprint or the Sprint network being bad. Our conversation was more about, ‘OK, he’s new, I’m new. Is it possible to get something done?’”

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