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Why the AT&T and T-Mobile Merger Is Bad For Consumers 367

Posted by Soulskill
from the abuse-of-the-letter-t dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "AT&T recently announced that it will buy T-Mobile for $39 billion. If the transaction gets approved by the government and closes in a year as planned, it will create the nation's largest wireless carrier by far. While this is great news for both companies, analysts believe that it's an awful idea for end consumers for a number of different reasons — from obvious ones, like a rise in rates due to lower competition, to subtler ones, like more selective phone choices for consumers."
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Why the AT&T and T-Mobile Merger Is Bad For Consumers

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  • This sucks (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @03:51PM (#35563576)

    I'm a t-mobile customer, and I for one DO NOT like the idea of the merger... I will have poorer service, higher rates, and less selection on phones... But then, I'm just a customer and my opinion doesn't count.. does it...

  • Re:Reject (Score:3, Informative)

    by C_amiga_fan (1960858) on Monday March 21, 2011 @03:54PM (#35563636)

    P.S.

    "AT&T's 700 Mhz spectrum" came from the selloff of TV channels 52 through 69. ATT, Verizon, and the FCC are pushing to selloff channels 25 and up, too, effectively killing free television (there would be one-half as many stations).

  • Re:This sucks (Score:3, Informative)

    by bb5ch39t (786551) on Monday March 21, 2011 @03:55PM (#35563646)
    Same here. I deliberately did NOT go with ATT. I guess I should have gone with Sprint or Verizon.
  • Re:Reject (Score:5, Informative)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Monday March 21, 2011 @03:57PM (#35563686) Journal

    It's ultimately not the FCC, but rather, the DOJ that would have to step in and stop it. So write them [justice.gov].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:03PM (#35563800)

    A loan from JP Morgan

    http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/g7vzu/why_the_hell_does_att_have_25_billion_in_cash/

  • Re:What competition? (Score:5, Informative)

    by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:04PM (#35563806)

    This is the nature of all markets: the big ones buy up the smaller ones until there are only one or two big ones left. Occasionally they collapse and are replaced by others, but the diversity never really expands.
    Deregulation and competition just doesn't work in the real world.

  • Led Zepplin (Score:5, Informative)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:09PM (#35563874) Homepage Journal

    Go to the T-Mobile forum if you want to know how well this is flying with T-Mobile customers. [t-mobile.com]

    The subject should give you an indication.

    I explicitly chose NOT to have anything to do with AT&T and now I am forced into it. Does that sound like free capitalism to you??

  • Re:This sucks (Score:3, Informative)

    by sneakyimp (1161443) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:15PM (#35563956)

    It totally sucks. My bill will go up about 30% and the Nexus S I bought JUST LAST WEEK will apparently be useless:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42195939/ns/business-us_business/ [msn.com]

    Not only that, I can't switch to any other provider with my phone because nobody else in the US is GSM.

  • Re:$39 BILLION!? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:24PM (#35564076) Homepage

    That's why a bunch of people think this merger happened. Supposedly it's about a 5-year process to get a new cell site approved by the FCC. (e.g. it's not about money, it's about paperwork delay).

    The problem is: T-Mobile's 3G sites are all in the 1700 MHz band. No AT&T handset supports UMTS1700 to my knowledge, so AT&T phones won't be able to use the new tower assets for 3G. A cell site approval from the FCC is not based just on siting - it's licensed for a specific frequency and power level. So the T-Mo tower assets can't just be switched over to a different band.

    There is a *slight* possibility it may be easier for AT&T to get an STA to change a tower to a new band than to build a new site though.

    As to the negative effect this will have on equipment manufacturers (handset and network infrastructure) - Anyone claiming this will have a significant negative impact on those people is forgetting that there are more countries on this planet than the United States.

    In terms of handsets - AT&T has already been in a situation of using bands not supported by any other carrier anywhere else in the world. Any phones for them had to be specially customized for them. Now, quad-band GSM has been common for a long time, but I have yet to see a UMTS handset that supported both the world frequencies and all of the US frequencies. T-Mobile was slightly fortunate in that unlike UMTS1900/UMTS850, some other countries did use UMTS1700. As a result, manufacturers could target more markets with a handset that supported UMTS1700/2100 than one that supported UMTS2100+the AT&T bands.

    For network equipment providers - nothing changes. Previously you had equipment for AT&T and equipment for the rest of the world, this doesn't change. AT&T is still at a disadvantage of lacking the economies of scale the rest of the world can take advantage of.

  • Re:$39 BILLION!? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:34PM (#35564198) Journal

    Phones have antennas that are tuned to specific frequency ranges. It's not as easy as a firmware flash.

  • Re:Its a done deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:01PM (#35564686)
    First off, you missed the sarcasm (even with a link pointing it out). Second, AT&T didn't buy back the baby bells. AT&T castrated itself by keeping what would be the losing business entity with the cool name. Southwestern Bell changed to SBC to hide the regionality of its name, then bought out AT&T (and changed its name again, someone at the top of Southwestern Bell was apparently ashamed of the Dallas roots of the company). So a baby bell bought the momma because the momma was incompetently run (and was under greater regulations while the babies were passing it with fewer regulations). But AT&T didn't reacquire the baby bells, the baby bells consolidated and then committed matricide.

    Not that the net effect isn't essentially the same, but the path was not how you described it.
  • Re:Reject (Score:5, Informative)

    by VGPowerlord (621254) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:13PM (#35564870)

    "AT&T's 700 Mhz spectrum" came from the selloff of TV channels 52 through 69. ATT, Verizon, and the FCC are pushing to selloff channels 25 and up, too, effectively killing free television (there would be one-half as many stations).

    This would be one of the reasons why the DTV transition [wikipedia.org] is happening world-wide, so governments can reassign the spectrum for other uses.

    In the US [wikipedia.org], low power stations are still allowed to transmit, but they know they are on borrowed time, as the international date to end analog television signals is June 17, 2015.

  • Hardware Filters (Score:4, Informative)

    by Benanov (583592) <brian,kemp&member,fsf,org> on Monday March 21, 2011 @06:13PM (#35565616) Journal

    That's not quite the case - a lot of the radios have hardware filters that can't be removed very easily - you'd be looking at desoldering surface-mount components and then replacing them with other versions...and then recertifying the entire thing to make sure you can still transmit without breaking FCC regulations (at least in the States.)

    The OpenMoko FreeRunner came in two versions - 900/1800/1900, and 850/1800/1900. It is not possible to change frequencies, and almost the entire phone is open to modification by the user.

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