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AT&T's look outside the U.S. may include more than M&A

Chief Executive Randall Stephenson says during a conference call that the wireless carrier is looking at new partnerships, investments, and roaming agreements.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
AT&T's developer summit at CES 2013. Roger Cheng/CNET
AT&T is considering ways to expand abroad besides just making acquisitions, the wireless carrier's chief executive said today.

Randall Stephenson, speaking during a conference call with analysts following AT&T's quarterly earnings report, said the shift to mobile in the U.S. over the past five years has been "impressive," and said those changes are likely to take place across the world. AT&T just needs to figure out how to take advantage of them.

"We have to ask if there are opportunities to participate in growth outside the U.S.," Stephenson said.

He noted it could take the form of "unique" roaming agreements with different cost structures, carrier partnerships like AT&T's China Telecom deal, and infrastructure investments. Stephenson said AT&T is also looking at ways to expand its applications and services, such as its Digital Life home-security and monitoring program.

"As we look at this, we do believe the U.S. experience will be replicated outside the U.S.," Stephenson said. "We're trying to decide how to participate in that."

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that AT&T is interested in buying a European carrier for growth. With the U.S. market about to get more competitive, AT&T is looking at markets across the pond where it can upgrade technology and roll out new services and pricing strategies, the publication said, citing unnamed sources. It reported that AT&T is studying potential acquisitions and could strike a deal by the end of the year. In particular, AT&T is looking at the U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands.

Stephenson declined to comment about possible M&A.