So much for quiet Sundays. AT&T announced today that it’s agreed to acquire T-Mobile US from Deutsche Telekom, a merger which, if completed, will make it by far the country’s biggest wireless phone company. It’ll also leave us with three national carriers: AT&T, archrival Verizon Wireless, and the much smaller Sprint.
I’m not an expert on the dynamics of the telecommunications industry, but Om Malik’s thoughts–that this is bad news for everybody except AT&T and T-Mobile shareholders–do a good job of summarizing the pessimistic view I’m instinctively inclined to tak. In the US, T-Mobile was a scrappy underdog that did shocking things like reduce monthly bills once a customer had completed a contract for a subsidized phone. It’s tough to imagine that T-Mobile’s personality will rub off on AT&T rather than the other way around.
Of course, AT&T does its best to make the case that this is good news: If the merger goes through, it will have more wireless spectrum to work with, and says it will bring LTE to former T-Mobile customers. And the company argues both that (A) there’s still plenty of competition, between national and regional wireless companies, and (B) past mergers have been good for consumers. Which is, I guess, the argument you’d expect from a company named AT&T.
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