FCC soliciting feedback on T-Mobile/AT&T merger

Submitted by Larry on 2 May 2011 - 8:38pm

If you haven't been living under a rock, you know that AT&T is trying to buy T-Mobile. This is a generally bad thing, as we already have far too much consolidation in the wireless carrier market as is, but that doesn't mean it's not still likely to happen. The only blocker is approval from the FCC, who is, per policy, soliciting public feedback. (It's 11-65.)

I would encourage everyone to sign in and voice their opposition. More carrier consolidation is not what we need. I've included my own public comments below for reference. Feel free to borrow liberally.

As a T-Mobile subscriber of over 7 years, I oppose the purchase of T-Mobile by AT&T for a number of reasons.

1) It would result in reduced competition in the domestic wireless market. At present there are only four national wireless carriers of consequence: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. (US Cellular is a small player at this point.) This merger would result in a 25% reduction in the number of carriers available to consumers, that is, a 25% reduction in competition. Given the extremely high cost of setting up the infrastructure to run a wireless carrier, as well as the scarcity of available spectrum to do so, the potential for a new carrier to enter the market (rather than simply as a reseller of an incumbent wireless carrier) is virtually nil. Thus, this merger would permanently reduce competition and stifle consumer choice and innovation.

2) Regarding these carriers in particular, AT&T and T-Mobile are at present the only major GSM carriers in the United States. All other carriers use CDMA technology. Most of the rest of the world uses GSM-based networks. Thus, international travelers (of which I am one) who wish to use their phones while outside of the United States currently have only two choices of carrier: AT&T and T-Mobile. A buy-out of T-Mobile by AT&T would result in only a single GSM carrier in the market. That is, international business travelers would be subject to monopoly conditions when selecting a phone carrier. Monopoly conditions are never good for the market or for the consumer, and a chief role of the government in a market-based economy is to ensure that monopolies do not form or if they are are unable to damage the economy.

3) AT&T has consistently ranked as the worst of the major national carriers in terms of network quality and customer service. T-Mobile has consistently ranked as the best of the major national carriers in terms of customer service. I do not for a second believe that AT&T buying T-Mobile would result in anything but a reduction in customer service quality for current T-Mobile customers, especially given the monopoly conditions they would then be under (see point #2 above).

For the above reasons, I urge the FCC to reject the AT&T buyout of T-Mobile as anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

imarion (not verified)

8 June 2011 - 6:54am

Most T-Mobile customers such as myself are perfectly happy with T-Mobile. If I wanted AT&T service, or lack thereof, and coverage I would have signed with them and paid their higher charges and fees.

T-Mobile and Sprint have been good counterweights to the "Death Star" and "Big Red". Otherwise their customers would be paying even more than they do.