Frontier Makes Wireless Move Via AT&T Reseller Relationship

Frontier Communications (NYS: FTR) has found that a way to enhance its service portfolio by providing wireless voice and data services through a relationship with AT&T (NYS: T) Mobility.

Under the terms of the three-year agreement, the wireline operator will offer AT&T's suite of smartphones and network access to its customer base.

Following an initial trial in the first half of 2012, Frontier will extend the wireless offering throughout its nationwide 27-state footprint when it completes operational processes.

"This was a natural extension of a product that we are not currently offering that would fit well with our product suite," said Steve Crosby, Frontier's senior vice president of government affairs and public relations, in an interview with FierceWireless.

There are still a number of questions, of course. It's not clear whether the service would leverage either Frontier's brand or AT&T's, nor what devices would be made available to its customers.

Crosby said that, "the goal would be to have all that is currently available to AT&T customers."

For Frontier, the agreement with AT&T Mobility is all about being able to derive more revenue out of each consumer or business customer. The ILEC will offer the wireless service as part of a bundle that could include other traditional wireline services such as DSL, satellite TV and wireline voice on a single bill.

Lacking a wireless component of its own, Frontier's relationship with AT&T appears to be part of a growing trend amongst the wireline-centric service providers looking to add mobility to their service portfolio as a way to help offset ongoing voice losses.

Frontier's move is similar to the deal that fellow independent ILEC CenturyLink carved out with Verizon Wireless in which the telco acts as an authorized Verizon retailer.

"These reseller agreements help smaller operators such as Frontier tap into the buying power and the much envied device selection the Tier 1 operators have," said Chris Nicoll, Principal Analyst, Mobility at ACG Research in an interview with FierceTelecom. "With devices having such a strong influence on consumer's choosing a wireless operator -- and not just the iPhone but hot devices from HTC and Samsung as well -- this makes a lot of sense."

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