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AT&T To Acquire T-Mobile From Deutsche Telekom 748

Posted by timothy
from the drei-ist-genug dept.
teh31337one writes "AT&T and Deutsche Telekom have entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in cash and stocks. Press release here." Gripes one anonymous reader: "Americans will have even less choice now when it comes to cell phone carriers. Say good-bye to the one that had the best customer service and was most friendly towards Android and rooting."
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AT&T To Acquire T-Mobile From Deutsche Telekom

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  • by dwhitaker (1500855) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @03:14PM (#35552322) Homepage
    As a former AT&T customer and a current T-Mobile customer, I am very disappointed by this. However, the deal is still a year away and subject to regulatory approval.Perhaps we can hope that the government makes a move to protect consumers for a change?
  • by Drakino (10965) <d_slashdot@miniOPENBSDinfo.net minus bsd> on Sunday March 20, 2011 @03:20PM (#35552372) Journal

    I gave up hope on the mobile industry in the US long ago. When T-Mobile and AT&T couldn't even use compatible frequencies for 3G, the hope of cross carrier compatibility died a long time ago. GSM is only great when you can buy an unlocked phone, choose a provider and pop in a SIM, then change on a whim while paying lower monthly prices due to the lack of a subsidy. This is one of the many benefits Europeans enjoy, along with good roaming agreements to ensure they can make a call even if their own provider doesn't cover the area well. I still look back to 2004 when I had an unlocked Sony Ericsson phone from T-Mobile that I used in Europe for a bit. Bought a SIM in London, traveled into the Netherlands, around Germany and a bit into Switzerland. At one point, my phone saw 9 different providers it was willing to use for emergency calls, and 4 or so of those it was willing to roam on for everything else.

    Since none of those benefits ever came to the US, I hold some hope in that this merger will bring some good. AT&T is pledging a bigger LTE rollout, including to rural parts of the US. This is desperately needed, as many rural areas have dial up and satellite based options only. Dialup is near unusable these days, and satellite adds too much latency, negating benefits from Web 2.0 based sites, and conferencing/communication software. Low caps also prevent rural users from taking advantage of services like Netflix.

  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecatedNO@SPAMema.il> on Sunday March 20, 2011 @03:27PM (#35552442) Journal
    Negatives:
    • Data and voice plans will go up at least $10 more per month.
    • T-Mobile was the only carrier that had truly unlimited tethering. (You paid for 5GB buckets; they capped your bandwidth after that.) That will go away.
    • The only major GSM provider in the US will be AT&T, unless Verizon switches to GSM and forces millions to migrate. (Unlikely to be the opposite case.)

    Positives:

    • We'll finally have massive 3G/4G coverage.
    • T-Mobile annually won awards for their incredible customer service. Hopefully AT&T adopts their paradigms.
    • With AT&T being the only GSM carrier in the US, manufacturer agreements will be way easier and, thus, we'll finally be getting a vast selection of high-end phones. (T-Mobile has been steadily improving in this front.)
    • HOPEFULLY AT&T customers will get UMA (GAN), probably one of T-Mobile's best and most exclusive features. They would be incredibly short-sighted to throw that technology away.

    One could argue that smartphone handsets might be more "locked down" over time, but I never saw AT&T handsets being more locked down in any way than their T-Mo counterparts. They might throw more crapware in (can't believe I'm using that term for my phone), but as long as rooting exists, there will be ways of removing them.

    While I'm making armchair predictions, Verizon will buy Sprint within the next two years. Sprint has been losing customers for a while now and their WiMAX technology isn't taking off fast enough. I hope the FCC does something to control the monopolies that will ensue when that happens. This should get interesting really quickly.

  • Plus millions of customers who fled AT&T's fucking horrible network are now going to be forced to give them even more unearned money (at least in early termination fees)

    I thought that by law, a utility service contract had to give the subscriber an option to cancel without ETF should the provider make material changes to the terms.

  • Ze Germans (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2011 @03:34PM (#35552526)

    Funny how T-Mobile is an underdog in the US and people seem to actually like them there (or hate them less than the competition). At home they're the ex-monopoly. They have the highest prices and the most civil-servant like customer service.

    They must be a different company in the US or the telecommunications sector is abysmal in the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2011 @04:06PM (#35552840)

    I carried a cell phone from about 1999 until about 2008. I did also briefly have a phone in 1994-1995, but it was for work.

    In 2009, I pulled the plug, so to speak. My wife and I were with AT&T, and suddenly started seeing charges for $0.40 here and there, so I called to see what they were for.

    "Those are for incoming text messages"

    "But I don't want text messages, and I can't control who sends them to me"

    "I'm sorry, sir, but we can't control it either. But, for $5/mo per phone, we can give you 200 texts per month and you should get charged anymore"

    Right. So, first of all, they CAN control it. They simply choose not to, and it felt like just more extortion. So, fine. We paid the protection racket.

    Then, we started seeing data charges. Out of nowhere. we hadn't even gotten new phones. So, again, I called 611 for the 411.

    "It looks like browsing activity from the phones"

    "But neither of us have browsed from our phones. Can't we just turn that functionality off on our accounts."

    "I'm sorry, sir, but we can't disable the phone's web browser. That would be up to the phone's manufacturer, and we can't tell them what to put in their phones. But, for just $15/mo per phone, you can get unlimited data and won't risk getting charged anymore"

    Right. Of course they can disable it. But, they choose not to. When all was said and done, their "protection" money would have been $60 (text and data) on top of our $50 plan.

    $110 /mo? For phone service? In addition to another $30 in "taxes" and "government fees" which actually aren't.

    Screw that. We dumped them and haven't carried cell phones since. We don't miss them. The constant interruptions. The constant worrying over hitting the wrong button in our pocket and racking up $10 in data charges. People bitching at us "why didn't you answer your cell phone?!?!" when "I didn't want to fucking talk to your annoying ass" is not a good enough answer.

    I dumped a pre-paid phone in the glove box of each car for emergencies, and I carry one of our old GSM phones on bike rides for access to 911. That's it.

    FUCK THE CELL PHONE CARRIERS RIGHT IN THE EAR. The "modern convenience" is not worth the hassle at all.

  • Re:Not gonna lie (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @04:55PM (#35553290)

    Ideally, yes. In practice, not so much. The problem with that is, CEO's like new yachts more than they like happy customers.

    The real problem is that idiots keep applying economic models that assume strong competition to markets that are natural monopolies.

    The right way to do all of this is to create a nonprofit organization in each city whose job it is to install last mile fiber between every building in the city and a central office or two. It doesn't need to operate any switching equipment whatsoever. All it does is put fiber in the ground between all the buildings in an area and a single central location. Then competing ISPs can lease fiber that goes to specific customer premises and rackspace in that central office, all for cost, and hook into the internet through a series of competing inter-city backbone providers like Level 3 and AT&T. Then each individual ISP can decide questions like monthly fees, network neutrality, flat rate or per-bit pricing, etc., but in a highly competitive market since all it takes to start an ISP is to buy some switching equipment for a couple grand and rent some space in the central office.

    You give the nonprofit some basic rules to follow (like percent coverage with fiber by such-and-such date, redundancy, up-time, etc.) and then you give the nonprofit's executives bonuses inversely proportional to the amount of money they spend in meeting the specified requirements. The idea is to take the specific thing which is a natural monopoly, namely the last mile connection, separate it into a single-purpose organization that operates with no profit and let competition operate as much as possible for all other parts of the operation. Now, can we please do this?

  • Re:Not gonna lie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @05:41PM (#35553636)

    Oh, and the wireless version. I think this one's beautiful:

    You take your nonprofit organization and provide it some spectrum and enough capital to build a couple of towers and the fiber between the tower and the central office. The fiber goes to a switch in the central office where any wireless ISP can hook up for their share of the maintenance cost of the tower. Then you do constant live spectrum dutch auctions: You allocate a tiny piece of the spectrum for a control channel and then split the rest into slices of e.g. 5KB/sec each and auction them off at e.g. 2 second intervals. Then anybody who wants to use wireless transmits a message on the control channel that says "I want three slices for the next 2 seconds, I bid $0.0004/slice/second" and the tower either responds with a message saying which frequencies to transmit on or denying the request because the requesting device has been outbid. If there are more available slices than there are bidders then everybody gets what they want and nobody pays anything, if there are more bidders than slices then the highest bidders win and each one pays the amount per slice that the lowest winning bidder pays.

    The result is that if there is sufficient capacity then everything is free, if there is contention (and to the extent there is contention), the nonprofit collects revenue. The revenue then goes to buying more spectrum or building more towers to alleviate the capacity shortfall. It's like magic -- a direct connection between supply and demand. How's that for free markets?

  • by lenski (96498) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @06:07PM (#35553846)

    Real capitalism would be great. A real free market would be great. In the meantime, the people running large and influential piles of concentrated "capital" are bitching constantly about "freedom" while limiting everyone else's freedom as fast as they can.

    AT&T buying up the only other provider of GSM service in the country is a perfect example. For another example, note the generally available ROI on retail "capital investments".

    Capitalism my ass. This is plutocracy.

    Until the word "capitalism" is used properly, I plan to stand by every crucifixion of the lie that is modern american "capitalism" whenever possible.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday March 20, 2011 @07:20PM (#35554298) Homepage Journal

    The above commenter almost certainly works for one of the recent "reputation management" companies that work to subvert online communities from discussing stories that may reflect badly on very big companies. This particular UID was created a few days ago to perform a similar function in a story with the headline "Time Warner Cable Cuts iPad Live TV Access 50%". The tactic is to create a very large section of long, useless trolling comments at the very beginning of the comments section made up of a lot of anonymous idiocy broken up by idiocy from registered users, almost always very recently registered.

    I've seen this tactic used on a lot of stories that always seem to be about some very very large corporation, sometimes on the very same stories reported at other websites with large and active commenter communities. I'm not exactly sure how the technique would work, but it's too widespread and too uniform to be anything but an organized effort. You even see variations on the same user names in different social networking and discussion-based websites.

    I know for a fact that companies like New Media Strategies and all the "Reputation Defender" and reputation.com companies that have recently sprung up are not shy about using some very disruptive and underhanded tactics to try to achieve their goals for their clients, and will sometimes even brag to their clients about their techniques. I know someone who worked for one of these outfits and the stories he would tell are pretty disgusting. And these companies are very richly capitalized. There's a lot of money in obfuscation it seems. Corporations do not want us to know what they are up to.

    Information is already often untrustworthy. We either have to find a way to thwart these efforts or we have to speed development of ad hoc networks on a large scale. If there's not going to be meaningful net neutrality, then we're going to have to do it ourselves.

    By the way, AT&T buying T-Mobile is a terrible development. We can hope that the Justice Department steps in and stops this, but they've been pretty soft on anti-trust. AT&T should not be getting bigger, they should be getting broken up. We will all lose on this deal.

  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @07:45PM (#35554476)

    > No, but if I did, I would be able to sue the grocery store for violation of their contract, as you can with the cellular companies if the service they're providing is suddenly sub-par and vastly inferior to its conditions at the start of the contract.

    You almost certainly can't--read your contract. You can go to arbitration. Which you will lose.

  • by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @07:52PM (#35554528)

    > No, but if I did, I would be able to sue the grocery store for violation of their contract, as you can with the cellular companies if the service they're providing is suddenly sub-par and vastly inferior to its conditions at the start of the contract.

    You almost certainly can't--read your contract. You can go to arbitration. Which you will lose.

    You can always sue somebody. If the court finds them guilty of violating their contract, then the arbitration clause doesn't matter.

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