AT&T veered into a new direction in 2015 as some of its mainstay businesses ran into trouble. A continued assault from revitalized wireless carrier T-Mobile helped strip away almost two million of AT&T’s monthly mobile subscribers. And the old legacy landline phone business accelerated its decline, losing almost 10% of its revenue from the year before. So CEO Randall Stephenson made two bold gambles that may — or may not — pay off in coming years. First, he spent almost $50 billion to acquire satellite television provider DirecTV. Along with its existing cable television offering Uverse, the move immediately made AT&T one of the largest TV subscription services in the world with 26 million U.S. customers and 19 million overseas. AT&T also acquired Nextel Mexico and Iusacell for less than $5 billion. Combining the two and upgrading its Mexican infrastructure could pay off if Latin America continues to grow faster than many other parts of the world. In the meantime, AT&T can profit from the immense flow of trade and communication between the U.S. and Mexico. The television play looks riskier, as cord cutting accelerates among millennials and Internet video services like Netflix gain momentum.
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