Saturday, March 26, 2011

AT&T's buyout of T-Mobile

I have mixed feelings about the recent announcement AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA. On one hand it will consolidate the GSM network under one provider. The combined physical network will provide better coverage than either company has alone. That is a good thing.

However, the loss of competition in the USA GSM world will allow AT&T to have a monopoly in that space. GSM is unique in that the chip can be moved from phone to phone giving some flexibility in changing devices.

Back in the mid 60s it wasn't possible to own your own phone and connect it to the phone network but rather paid a monthly cost to Bell for them.. that over time changed to where the customers owned phones. That gave rise to many different types of low cost phones. In the early 70s the Bell System was split up into 7 Regional companies. Ironically, at least 4 of those are now part of AT&T!! Seems that the old Bell System is rebuilding itself.

IF the FCC and FTC allow this merger to go through then they should put some controls in place to ensure that the combined company acts in the best interest of the consumer. They have not proven that so far (recent example is the DSL to U-Verse conversion where at their discretion they will change the service and payment plans).

If the merger is NOT allowed to be completed then that opens the door for Google to then acquire T-Mobile USA and become a carrier. This could prove interesting as Google does operate in the interest of the consumer.

Only time will tell....