In case you hadn’t heard, AT&T and Deutsche-Telecom have entered into an agreement where AT&T Wireless will “acquire” (assimilate?) T-Mobile USA for about $39 Billion. Oh ye MyTouch users, look upon yon merger and despair.
The good news (and there is so little of it) is that this merger could take up to a year to be approved by both the FCC and FTC. So if you are a T-Mobile user, you have some time to decide what you want to do.
The bad news is that AT&T will be pretty much the only GSM option to most Americans. Sure, AT&T claims it’s not a monopoly because there are regional carriers that provide a choice . . . in select markets. For instance, AT&T claims MetroPCS is a perfect example about how they don’t have a stranglehold on every metropolitan area. This is usually met with the response, “Who is MetroPCS?”
While T-Mobile is the smallest of US cellular carriers, they have actually been very important in moving the other three carriers along. It was T-Mobile that started the “Unlimited Calls” war with Sprint. It was T-Mobile who first introduced the Android phone. It was T-Mobile who first had really GOOD customer service (for a telecom company anyway). Which of these aspects remains after being inducted into the Empire of MaBell is hard to say right now. For the time being, we only have a few details to go off of:
- AT&T will absorb T-Mobiles 54M subscribers to become the largest cellular carrier in North America.
- Since T-Mobile’s 3G technology is incompatible with AT&T’s, T-Mobile subscribers will eventually be moving over to AT&T 3G handsets over the next year and a half.
- T-Mobile’s 3G data cells will be repurposed to broadcast AT&T’s 4G (LTE) data network, allowing AT&T to build out for a fraction of the cost of upgrading their existing system.
- By turning off T-Mobile’s 3G data in heavily congested areas (namely New York and San Francisco), AT&T gains 30Mhtz of wiggle room to allow some better data rates. In layman’s terms; more network room for more people.
- By becoming the only GSM carrier for American consumers, handset manufacturer’s will now have to do whatever AT&T wants if they want their handsets sold. This is not something that can be worked around, unfortunately. Before, if AT&T wanted the boot screen of every phone to show a bouncing bunny, the manufacturer could always say “No, that’s dumb. We’re going with T-Mobile.” Now, they have no choice but to make it to AT&T’s specifications. CDMA phones cannot be hacked or modified to work on a GSM network.
The one thing worth looking forward to in all this is that maybe (MAYBE) by the time this merger is complete, we will be eyeballs deep in the 4G-LTE renaissance. If this is the case, then all phone carriers will be streaming data through the same network standard. This will once again ensure some level of competitiveness amongst the carriers and handset manufacturers. If this doesn’t happen, however, we’re all in for a bad time.