France Telecom and TeliaSonera would create giant WiMAX operator  

France Telecom today announced its USD 46.4 billion bid for TeliaSonera. If successful, the merger would create the fourth largest global telecoms group, with operations in 30 countries.

It would also combine two of the largest Tier-1 WiMAX operators. Didier Lombard, France Telecom Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, recently said that WiMAX is a strategic component of the expansion plans for Orange, the mobile operation of France Telecom.

The company has deployed WiMAX in Russia, Africa and the Middle East, has acquired spectrum in Eastern Europe and several French territories, and is said to be seeking more WiMAX spectrum in other countries.

Likewise, TeliaSonera has deployed WiMAX networks in Norway, Sweden, Latvia and Estonia, and has been an active participant in consultations for upcoming spectrum auctions in other countries where it operates.

The board of directors at TeliaSonera immediately rejected the offer of France Telecom, and it is likely to be several weeks before the French company decides if it will increase its offer.

Nevertheless, as WiMAX becomes the technology of choice for mobile operators seeking profits in wireless broadband, such mega-mergers show that a handful of top mobile operators will dominate the eventual consolidation of the WiMAX market.

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