Here are some great links for staying up to date on the AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile.
Consumer Reports kicks it off with this tidbit by Paul Reynolds:
For one, the FCC, among the key regulatory bodies that will assess the deal, has already expressed concern about the state of the wireless market, opting last year to declare it not competitive. There’s also the recent example of the merger of cable giant Comcast and broadcaster NBC Universal. The deal received close scrutiny from regulators and, when it was approved, it was with what Consumers Union called “real strings” that “could help to limit anti-consumer, anti-competitive behavior.”
Over at The Wall Street Journal on the ‘Digits’ blog Jennifer Valentino-DeVries adds this to the mix:
The companies use different radio frequencies even though they have the same wireless technology, but they will “dual band” the two networks so that phones will work on both, they said.
That is an interesting tidbit and could really mean a better network overall for AT&T-Mobile customers in areas, like say, San Francisco.
While AT&T talked up the benefits to its own subscribers in the merger announcement, the real winners are the T-Mobile customers. With identical technologies (save for their 3G frequencies), almost immediately after the merger is approved those subscriber’s coverage area will increase several times over. (For T-Mobile subscribers, the biggest gripe is always coverage.)
Again this is a good thing and Oswald makes a great point about what T-Mobile gets even if the two can’t merge (lots of cash).
Om Malik thinks this deal is bad all around because the decrease in competition means that prices will likely rise:
T-Mobile USA has been fairly aggressive in offering cheaper voice and data plans as it has tried to compete with its larger brethren. The competition has kept the prices in the market low enough. This has worked well for U.S. consumers. With the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, the market is now reduced to three national players: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Net-net, U.S. consumers are going to lose.
I can certainly see the danger in this happening, but I think that two large carriers with your odd-ball discount carriers should be enough to keep prices down. Should.
Ina Fried has a rather boring interview with AT&T President Ralph De La Vega — in which I couldn’t find anything worth quoting. It is worth mentioning though that he seems very confident that DOJ won’t block this. Interestingly he does state that this should help with a faster LTE roll-out — though color me skeptical on that one.
Lastly T-Mobile has a nice Q&A up for its current customers where they pour cold water on the wet dreams of nerds every where when they state:
Is T-Mobile USA getting the iPhone?
T-Mobile USA remains an independent company. The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.
Or translated: not until we are officially called AT&T.
Overall we need to take the wait and see approach here. I am not at all worried about the DOJ blocking this merger, nor am I worried about pricing hikes or anything else. I think this will be a net-positive for every AT&T and T-Mobile customer. The only loser here is Sprint and man did they lose.