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Senators Taking Sides In AT&T/T Mobile Merger 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
Sniper98G writes "US senators have no official power to block the AT&T/T Mobile merger. But that has not stopped them from making strong recommendations to the FCC and the department of justice. This whole situation has left me asking 'If the US senate and house are so concerned about a Triploy in wireless communication, where are the hearings about why most US household only have access to one or two wired communication providers?'"
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Senators Taking Sides In AT&T/T Mobile Merger

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:08AM (#36833266) Homepage

    They had plenty of time to "take positions" earlier but remained silent. I have to wonder if this has more to do with collecting campaign funding than actually caring about a cause.

    • Not to mention, that with the exception of Al Franken, there was near total silence on that NBC/Comcast abomination.
      • Mentioning Al Franken in the presence of self proclaimed "conservatives" is like waving a red flag at a bull. They will stampede to proclaim the NBC/Comcast merger as a shining beacon of free market supremacy and the best thing for the consumer since sliced bread.
        • You don't even have to mention Al Franken to get the "conservatives" to stampede to proclaim the NBC/Comcast merger as the best thing since sliced bread, they will naturally do it. I would say with Franken's record in the Senate I am seriously considering voting for him next time. Last time around I didn't vote for either since Franken's talk show persona was so different from how he was running I didn't know what one to believe, but I was sick of the lies and BS from Coleman.
          • Last time around I didn't vote for either since Franken's talk show persona was so different from how he was running I didn't know what one to believe

            I can only assume you're basing your opinion of his talk show "persona" on what you heard about it, rather than first hand experience. I lean right on most things, but loved his show on Air America. It wasn't at all balanced, and it didn't pretend to be. But it was meticulously fact-based, and often featured Republican guests who were allowed to speak their peace and engage in honest, interesting conversation. It was the closest thing to real debate I've seen in my politically aware life.

            It was the anti-Fo

            • I did listen to it and to me he seemed a bit far to the left for me. I lean libertarian quite a bit but like you like listening to radio that I don't agree with as it allows me to be more informed and it can challenge you beliefs. Since he isn't on the air anymore I usually listen to Thom Hartmann on my drive home who also seems to try to have honest debates, but he does get into a shouting match some times. It is on a delay here in the twin cities and is on air from 2pm to 5pm. That said I wouldn't vote fo
        • Mentioning Al Franken in the presence of self proclaimed "conservatives" is like waving a red flag at a bull. They will stampede to proclaim the NBC/Comcast merger as a shining beacon of free market supremacy and the best thing for the consumer since sliced bread.

          What an apropos analogy. The advent of sliced bread was hailed as a time and labor saving wonder. But people lost control of what was in the bread. When you cut bread into thin layers the increased surface area provides more opportunity for mold to take hold. Also, moisture is lost at every cut, allowing the bread to go stale faster than whole loaf bread. These problems are overcome with additives not used in home baked bread. Most people won't bother to make bread, and thus are locked into what is sold at

    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:36AM (#36833426)

      No, it isn't purely about campaign funds (though not saying that it doesn't come into the equation). I see this sort of thing ALL the time at work. I think of it as the "Me too, I have input!" syndrome. Take a middle or senior manager, then talk to them about something they have no clue about or haven't ever spoken about, then count to three and get interrupted at two - at which point the chime in with (most of the time) some totally irrelevant input, sometimes totally wrong input, or bring up a "new" point that was already discussed in detail by people who know what they are talking about in the last meeting.

      Do these points bring value to a conversation? Nope. Do they help the rest of the people in a meeting? Nope. Do they make the person look like they are involved? Sure, to others who also have no clue - perhaps they even make the person look smart to others with even less clue.

      Now, I present Exhibit A. The career politician. These folks spend their entire lives in the above syndrome. Sadly, most of the time they aren't managed out of the company or in this case voted out of office.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Grave (8234)

        The "Me too, I have input!" syndrome, as you put it, is still about getting re-elected, if you ask me. Why else would these people chime in on a subject they can't control and have little knowledge of? To stay in the public eye, and be able to say "I opposed this" or "I supported this" when their next opponent in the campaign cycle decides to challenge them.

        End re-election concerns by going to single terms, and I bet most political posturing and useless activities like this would end (or at least become s

        • by dkf (304284)

          The "Me too, I have input!" syndrome, as you put it, is still about getting re-elected, if you ask me.

          You get it any time you have a committee, no matter how people are chosen to serve. I put it down to the mammalian scent mark urge. You know how the neighbors dog insists on pissing on your gatepost just to say "I was here" to other passing dogs? It's exactly the same, and to about the same effect on the thing getting pissed on.

          • So basically you are saying this is political cock waving.
            • by s73v3r (963317)

              Is there anything that happens in Washington that isn't political cock waving/cock measuring?

              • Is there anything that happens in Washington that isn't political cock waving/cock measuring?

                The refractory period. Both the actual one and for the one of about the same length after an election.

        • End re-election concerns by going to single terms, and I bet most political posturing and useless activities like this would end (or at least become significantly less).

          What about the few good career politicians? Al Franken, Ron Paul , ect. I would hate to lose them after just one term. But that's just two examples in what 500+ congressmen.

          • The few good politicians that have, follow, and run on principals other than I want to be a career politician just get drowned out and called the extreme nut jobs by the rest of their party.I would also throw Dennis Kucinich in as a good politician. In my years of following politics it seems that if both Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are for something it is probably a good thing, and if they are against it it is probably a very bad thing. Too bad that when they are in agreement the rest of the house and sena
            • by s73v3r (963317)

              What about when they disagree? Dennis Kucinich is very much in favor of Universal Health Care, whereas Ron Paul is adamantly opposed to it.

              • by Rich0 (548339)

                You know, with issues as complex as Universal Health Care I think there is plenty of room for intelligent and principled people to disagree. Let's let them debate the REAL issues and maybe come up with a good solution. I never mind discussing issues with intelligent people I disagree with, even if in the end we still disagree, because I feel like I've gained something from the exchange (hopefully a mutual feeling). On the other hand, arguing with somebody touting the party line is just tiring - I gain no

            • Dennis Kucinich has a history of of consistently ignored the needs of the people in the district he allegedly represents to go on ill-fated presidential runs in 2000 and 2004 and considering that his current Ohio district is likely to be eliminated in redistricting is looking to run in Washington St.
            • by Cheeko (165493)

              I think thats partly true. More so in contested offices.

              Someone like Barney Frank can be as blunt and to the point about what he feels and thats exactly the reason he gets re-elected. That being said he represents a district where thats exactly what his constituents want.

              The problem is when there needs to be all out pandering in order to get elected. Then you seldom get what you think you're getting when you elect someone.

        • >

          End re-election concerns by going to single terms, and I bet most political posturing and useless activities like this would end (or at least become significantly less).

          Sadly no. Just look at California that have relative strict limits. The first term legislators are all high and mighty – and get nothing done. The second term they figure out how things work – but they don’t.

          Some are too busy trying to figure out how to run for the next office.
          Nobody is willing to make long term compromises [i.e. the hard choices] because there is no long term pay off.
          And there is no leadership to steer the whole thing.

          No, what you want is a nice mixture of new and old. Yo

          • I think one answer might be to give elected officials more power—no, wait, hear me out!—by extending terms. Although two years for a member of the House of Representatives might have been fine in the eighteenth century, with communication times measured in weeks, it's absurd for the twentieth, where communication time is measure in nanoseconds. If your constituents aren't going to hear about the dumb thing you said until a month from now, you have time to fix it, or at least for it to blow ove

    • As I understand it, it's quite legal for them, so they are probably complaining that their snouts are not in the trough any more.
       

      • by Weezul (52464) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:26AM (#36834456)

        It's well established in the business literature that large stock mergers like this almost always hurt the acquiring company's stock holders, as well as employees and consumers. I'd imagine this even applies to the acquired company's stock holders.

        As a rule, the only people that benefit from the acquisition are the executives of the acquiring company, who's power & compensation increase vaguely proportionally to the size of the company they run. In effect, the acquiring executives are devaluing their own stock holders investments to make themselves more important and force those stock holders to vote them more compensation.

        Just fyi, cash mergers average out like investing in the S&P500. In a cash merger, the acquiring company's executives have real utility for cash on hand, so they negotiate a fair price or make better strategic decisions even when overpaying. In the stock merger, they simply acquire the largest company possible using other people's money.

        • Yes, 70% of the mergers tend to destroy value. On the other hand, about 30% do create real synergies.[how I hate that word.]. Basically what happens is that the managers of the acquired company have a better inside view of the company and will try to extract the highest price possible.

          I am a bit more optimistic about this merger for 2 reasons. AT&T is less interested in acquiring T-Mobil business then in its spectrum. AT&T needs more spectrum so it drops fewer IPhone calls. Second, this will basical

          • by Weezul (52464)

            I've heard the distinction phrased as cash vs. stock before, but the issue is obviously whether the acquiring company issues new stock or buys it's own shares on the market, which spreads the tax hit out to day traders.

            I'd imagine that well more than 70% of 'merger dollars' destroy real shareholder value, i.e. the remaining 30% are all small companies and mergers frequently replace real value by irrational valuations. And creating synergies and destroying value are obviously not mutually exclusive.

            Yes, the

            • So, let me clarify so points.

              In the business world synergy is always a good thing. Here is the big idea behind a merger: 1 + 1 = 3. That is, by combining 2 companies value is created.

              Let me state the 70% a bit more exactly. In mergers, from the acquires viewpoint, mergers fail to generate value either because the merger destroys value or the acquired company bids up there stock. That is, if the fair market value of the acquired company alone is 1, but in a combined company is 2, the “1” value cr

          • by sjames (1099)

            Let's face it, AT&T is mostly interested so the lady in the pink dress will quit saying mean (but true) things about them on TV.

          • AT&T is less interested in acquiring T-Mobil business then in its spectrum.

            AT&T doesn't need the spectrum, they have plenty of unused/under utilized spectrum. As do both of the other tier-1 providers. And it's doubtful that the additional spectrum will make much difference. If anything, they are after the already installed towers in urban areas. But even that doesn't make a lot of sense since $39B is about 10 times what it would take to fix their own network, and the T-Mobile spectrum may or ma

    • by badness (78200)

      Herb Kohl isn't running in 2012.

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:08AM (#36833272)

    Clearly someone has missed their yearly bribe payment, oh wait, I mean "campaign contribution".

    I'm sure this will all get sorted soon. Once that check gets deposited, it always does...

    • Either that or the politicians want a raise... I mean increased campaign contributions.

      "Don't want to give us more money for our campaigns? That's ok. Oh, by the way, about that merger you want to have... we have some concerns."

    • by GooberToo (74388)

      No, its official. Superpaks are now officially, "anonymous" legalized bribes. They are anonymous in that WE THE PEOPLE have no right to know who is doing the bribing whereas those receiving the bribes absolutely do know. We only have the right to know they have been bribed. And that's according to law.

      No ifs, ands, or buts, any politician which a superpak, has one for the sole purpose of being bribed. Its their hat in the ring, with a wink and a nod of saying, "I'm for sale. What's your best offer?"

  • Those morons in DC are paying attention to things other than the budget and the debt cap.

  • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:15AM (#36833308)
    In answer to the question from the original post... I think there are no hearings about wired communication "monopolies" because there are a variety of wired providers nationally, even if only one or two of them service each domicile or office. There's still comparatively heavy competition in most markets for wired communications services. Wireless, on the other hand, utilizes a finite resource (EM spectrum) and the 4 remaining carriers are largely the only ones available in the US. If I move from Miami, Florida, to Miami, Ohio, I probably have the same options available to me. Virgin Mobile, Boost, Wal-Mart Mobile, etc. all lease their spectrum from one of the big 4, so they aren't true alternatives or competitors. Three providers (or really two providers since I don't count Sprint) controlling all of the cell network EM spectrum seems like a very bad idea. I think that's why Congress is more concerned about the wireless merger than the paucity of wired communications providers serving Podunk, Montana. Other thoughts on this?
    • by magamiako1 (1026318) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:31AM (#36833392)
      There's still comparatively heavy competition in most markets for wired communications services.

      ^What? There is *no* competition in "most markets" for wired communication. None. Zero. Nada. There's so much conspiring to work against it that it's sickening. MOST wired "competition" is merely reselling connections from the larger providers in a way to lower the cost through the purchase of bulk bandwidth. As an example in Canada, Rogers and Teksavvy.

      AT&T and Verizon are known to do this in the US as well with small providers.
      • You're right of course, and I'm not sure why OP worded that the way he did. The real problem is that that there is little to nothing that the Federal government can do about the lack of competition in wired markets. The big 4 (3?) wireless carriers are national (really international, but for purposes of this discussion it's irrelevant) companies that touch the lives and pocket books of Americans everywhere. If you're in Portland, Maine you have essentially four choices for wireless; if you're in LA, Cali

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          The real problem is that that there is little to nothing that the Federal government can do about the lack of competition in wired markets.

          How about giving grants to communities to pay for them building their own community-owned infrastructure so that companies can lease access to fully built-out fiber networks instead of leasing access to the ground and running their own? Government-owned infrastructure eliminates the sole reason for granting monopoly status to telcos, and in so doing, opens up the possi

          • by s73v3r (963317)

            How about giving grants to communities to pay for them building their own community-owned infrastructure so that companies can lease access to fully built-out fiber networks instead of leasing access to the ground and running their own?

            Because the telcos are against it, and are turning many of the state legislatures against it.

            • by sjames (1099)

              That's exactly why it is necessary for the federal government to re-affirm that the people, working through their local municipal government or some other cooperative as they desire have the right to build a network if they want to and that neither the telcos nor the state government have any say in the matter.

          • How about giving grants to communities to pay for them building their own community-owned infrastructure so that companies can lease access to fully built-out fiber networks instead of leasing access to the ground and running their own? Government-owned infrastructure eliminates the sole reason for granting monopoly status to telcos, and in so doing, opens up the possibility for broad competition because of the drastically lowered cost of entry into that local market.

            This very well could be a good idea. But what would end up not getting funded so this could be?

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              My vote would be military R&D. We're decades ahead of anybody we're likely to call our enemies in the next hundred years. Do we really need that next generation of fighter aircraft or tanks?

        • by s73v3r (963317)

          You may not, as an individual, have lots of choices for broadband, but there are lots of choices.

          If most people don't have access to those choices, then there are not lots of choices.

        • The real problem is that that there is little to nothing that the Federal government can do about the lack of competition in wired markets.

          No, there are well-documented things that governments can do about this. For example, the government can enforce separation of the companies that provide the last-mile connection, the ones that connect that to the internet, and content providers. Because while the first one is a natural monopoly, the other two are not, yet right now the companies that own the last mile use it to stifle competition for ISP and content.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Depends on which wired communications we are talking about. For TV, the area is Comcast only, no FiOS yet (if ever). There is satellite TV, but it's technically wired. For high speed internet, again only Comcast. Sure, there are some (I think) dial-ups, but really? Wired phone has all kinds of options, including Comcast.

      The problem I have being tied to Comcast is it knows it can raise prices whenever it wants, because how many people would really drop TV and high speed internet? I don't know if satell

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Satellite isn't wired, unless you're counting the power outlet. Mine is only connected to the outside via dish, no other jacks involved at all. Which works for DirecTV, not sure about DISH.

        Comcast taking that position is precisely why you see so many dishes going up around here. Better quality, better service and not having to put up with cable morons.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There's still comparatively heavy competition in most markets for wired communications services.

      This is patently false. One phone company owns the copper that is connected to your house or business. If your business is big enough, or it's in a big enough building, there might be another company's fiber there, but that's the exception. Yes, you might be able to buy this or that service (dial tone, DSL, DSx) from a CLEC but it's not a competitive market because the ILEC always get's it's piece of the action. And no, the cable television companies are not really competitors. Their focus is different, and

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Virgin and Boost don't buy from the big 4, they ARE the big 4.

      Virgin and Boost are wholly owned subsidiaries of Sprint.

    • There's still comparatively heavy competition in most markets for wired communications services.

      ? i live in a city of +1 million, and for phone / internet / TV there's AT&T and comcast ... and i'm convinced both these guys collude to fix prices as prices are almost identically high and service is identically poor from both providers.

  • Telecom monopolies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darjen (879890) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:23AM (#36833356)

    The reason they aren't upset is that the telecom monopolies are and were always caused by explicit government policy.

    Read The Myth of Natural Monopoly by Thomas J. DiLorenzo http://mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/RAE9_2_3.pdf [mises.org]

    The record of Congress in the telecom industry is so poor. Why would anyone even give two thoughts about what these politicians say?

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      No, but you don't understand. Governments do everything in their power to reduce the power of monopolies, they do what they do for the benefit of consumers, all the regulations and taxes are there to protect you. Don't you know anything?

      --

      The above is what I normally get as comments, replying to mine on /. Then of-course come the 'moderators'.

      on monopolies [slashdot.org]

      more on monopolies [slashdot.org]

      some more [slashdot.org]

      Standard Oil, Alcoa Aluminum, AT&T, etc. [slashdot.org]

      the fix to the problem [slashdot.org]

      what's money? [slashdot.org]

      what's a real solution? [slashdot.org]

      is government evil? [slashdot.org]

      • You get modded down as flamebait and troll because there is no mod for illogical and ignorant hypocrite.

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          no, that's not it. Those normally get +5Insightful as they should.

          You, on the other hand, are always +1.7NotTooBright.

    • From the journal "Review of Austrian Economics". Do you also read Baptist newsletters on whether Jesus existed, or papers from the Creationist Museum regarding when dinosaurs existed?

      Not to mention that there are some egregious errors in the papers: a gas company that was disrupted by an entirely new technology not requiring existing infrastructure or the complete lack of study of actual monopolies that appeared without government intervention. Standard Oil is still the textbook example for this.

      And just to

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:37AM (#36833432) Homepage Journal

    Do you mean triopoly?

  • If the US senate and house are so concerned about a Triploy in wireless communication...

    Apart from the odd capitalization, "triploy" isn't a word, though if it were, it might refer to some kind of three-pronged ploy.

    Tripoli, formerly sometimes spelled Tripoly, is perhaps the closest word. It is Greek for "triple city"; famous examples include those in modern-day Lebanon [wikipedia.org], Libya [wikipedia.org], and Greece [wikipedia.org].

    The term tri-poly or tripoly can also have some uses in chemical nomenclature, as in sodium tripolyphosphate.

    Moving furt

    • by swb (14022)

      Even if a market is dominated by three players, is the term triopoly even intellectually honest? Really what you're starting to discuss is either a cartel or price fixing, both of which are usually illegal.

      • Except there is some evidence to price fixing for rates. Verizon and AT&T are only a few dollars difference to each other per month, though you get less for more with Verizon's service. If you remove T-Mobile, then Sprint will fall, and then people will really notice how odd it is for AT&T and Verizon to have similar rates. Roaming rates are a form of price fixing that AT&T and Verizon heavily rely on as well. As a result, the only carriers that can offer rates lower than $40/mo are ones who don

      • by sjames (1099)

        We use the term triopoly because the Chinese walls are just barely thick enough to keep it from being officially a cartel.

    • Well said. I'll add that the suffix "poly" in this instance derives from the Greek and Latin "polium," meaning "shop," not the Greek "polus," meaning much or many.

  • I would love to see them become AT&T&T :)

  • I travel for work and have a GSM phone which works in most countries I go to. Since I go to the US a lot, I got myself a prepaid AT&T SIM card many years ago and used that when I was in the US. In my last few visits however, I experienced so many annoying issues with the service (e.g. bad sound, dropped calls, dead spots even in the middle of big cities) that I decided to switch to T-Mobile prepaid in my next visit. Now this. *facepalm* This AT&T/T-Mobile merger will bring about a GSM service mo
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If AT&T will use the network facilities that T-Mobile had, then the service won't get lower than you had with T-Mobile, no?

      • I have a feeling the iPhone-wielding AT&T users will just eat up whatever extra bandwidth AT&T gets from T-Mobile, so the service, in the eyes of T-Mobile customers, will be worse. In the eyes of AT&T users, the service will be "slightly less unusable" (an upgrade from "unusable").
  • by jbarr (2233) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @08:39AM (#36833938) Homepage

    They just don't like the new name that it would become: AT&T&T

  • The irony here is that anyone who truly believes in free market principles should be opposed to these kinds of mergers. This is the sort of thing that kills healthy competition, particularly in a segment where there is already a distinct lack of competitors.

    When Republicans talk about the free market what they actually mean is that they're looking out for the best interests of their corporate backers. Of course, don't delude yourself into thinking Democrats are any better. They simply pander to a different

  • You cannot compare competition within wireless to wired. For one, the wireless folks only need to build one tower to serve hundreds. The wired providers has to run hundreds of physical lines. The cost of implementation is the key factor, it is a barrier to entry. Wireless does not have this problem. That said, no consumer wins in fights like this. The few remaining providers will hike prices up, knowing that there is no other competition. The government is needed in a case like this limit the abuse t

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      Wireless is also not limited. There are only a few bands out there, and they have been auctioned off. Having another wireless firm start up would be an impossibility as of now.

      With the way things are now, the only way an ISP could make it in any way, would be to either lay fiber and use line of site communications, or via IP over power lines.

  • What is this 'wired' thing? It sounds cool.

                  -Charlie

  • by dave562 (969951) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @11:15AM (#36835514) Journal

    This is a huge gamble for AT&T. They are basically trying to buy a 4G network instead of building it themselves. They've made the gamble that they can buy T-Mobile and bribe regulators for less money than they would have to spend to build it themselves.

    Of course the consumer will get screwed in the deal. Rather than having two 4G networks to choose from, we will be left with one over subscribed 4G network and thousands of fewer jobs once AT&T gets finished digesting T-Mobile and jettisoning the remaining workers. The merger is a complete FAIL for everyone other than AT&T. The fact that Congress is evening considering letting it happen just shows how dysfunctional our government is.

    • by ericdewey (167132)

      Where are my mod points when I really want them?

    • They are basically trying to buy a 4G network instead of building it themselves.

      Boy, did they screw up then. T-Mobile doesn't have a 4g network. They don't have the spectrum, they don't have the money to build it out. That is why Deutsche Telekom wants to unload them. They don't want to spend the money (instead, using it to build out their 4g in Europe), and T-Mobile can't survive without it. They can struggle along with HSPA+ for a while, but just like AT&T they are facing a very expensive LTE bui

  • Not a triopoly, but a single nationwide GSM carrier. Sure, there are regional GSM carriers in some locations, but AT&T will be the only nationwide GSM carrier. That's a problem.
  • I am definitely not in favor of this Tmo buyout, moreso since I'm both a Tmobile and Sprint customer, BUT... DT, Tmo's parent company, has made it abundantly clear that it no longer wants Tmo. So Tmo WILL die, unless some unknown buyer swoops in to continue to operate it as an independent carrier. So far (DT has been taking bids for a while now), no such white knight has appeared. This means that, Tmobile will almost certainly die, if not swallowed by AT&T, then merged with Sprint, or some other unknow

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