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Would a T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Hurt Consumers? (dslreports.com) 95

Following a report from Reuters claiming T-Mobile is close to agreeing on a deal to merge with Sprint, an anonymous Slashdot reader shares a report from DSLReports arguing how such a merger would remain "a very bad deal for consumers": The Sprint-T-Mobile merger could prove problematic for not only wireless prices, but the recent resurgence in unlimited data plans. While wireless carriers still often engage in theatrical non-price competition more often than not, the government's decision to block AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile several years ago helped spur an unprecedented period of competition in wireless (something large ISPs and their policy armies like to ignore). The end result was a brasher and more competitive T-Mobile, who lead the way on a wave of improvements in the sector culminating most recently in the return of simpler, easier unlimited data plans. The government's decision to block Sprint from acquiring T-Mobile helped keep that competition intact, something large ISPs and their policy folk would similarly like you to forget. As a result, T-Mobile has added more customers per quarter than any other wireless carrier for several years running, as the resulting competition put an end to numerous, nasty industry tactics including overcharging for international roaming, to obnoxious fees and long-term contracts. And while the new, combined company will likely still be run by current popular T-Mobile CEO John Legere, the very act of eliminating one of only four major players in the wireless market will indisputably reduce the incentive to more seriously compete on price, and could help reverse the progress the sector has seen in recent years. It's well within reason that this reduced competition could also bring back metered plans and put an end to unlimited data.
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Would a T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Hurt Consumers?

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  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @09:05AM (#55249885) Homepage

    Since this essentially will lead to a monopoly or at least an oligopoly situation it will hurt the customers.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @09:39AM (#55250011)

      There is still Verizon and AT&T
      Still a monopoly or an oligopoly may not hurt consumers, however it makes it much easier for them to do so.
      However if the two companies have similar cultures and processes the merger may be good for consumers as these were the underdogs in the market, If they can keep their underdog personality (with pushing their often better plans) with their combined infrastructure, they could really force Verizon and AT&T to compete more as well.

      • When you have a single dominant market player, or only a few dominant market players, a merger is NEVER good for consumers. Mergers are always designed to benefit one or both of the merging companies, to make them stronger so they don't have to be as nice to customers. Mergers are never done for the benefit of customers, despite the insistence of the companies trying to sell it that way.

      • I can't speak to T-Mobile, but perhaps the reason Sprint is an underdog in the market is because their service is terrible. I've tried them twice in my life separated by at least a decade. Both times I dropped them within a week.

        The last time I tried them, I was getting an order of magnitude less bandwidth while using an iPad with cellular while standing on Market Street in downtown San Francisco compared to my Verizon iPhone at the exact same spot.

        • by torkus ( 1133985 )

          Funny how everyone has virtually the same story but until TMO turned things upside down a few years ago, Sprint was well ahead of them in subscribers.

    • by hawk ( 1151 ) <hawk@eyry.org> on Saturday September 23, 2017 @12:04PM (#55250505) Journal

      It won't *lead* to an oligopoly; it will remove one of the four oligopolists.

      By reducing the number of oligopolists/increasing the concentration, the optimal price for the remaining members increases.

      As a practical matter, if sprint is indeed already doomed to fail, the other three are the likely purchasers of its assets in bankruptcy--and I'd rather see it parceled out in bankruptcy then in a single deal like this.

      We certainly have at least *some* evidence of the value to consumers of a fourth, smaller member of this oligopoly in tmobile's scrapping its own way back from near death a few years ago . . .

      Also, this will give us some insight into the new administrations's monopoly policy--it *says* it will protect us from monopolies, antitrust enforcement has dropped from its highpoint in the Reagan administration, which bought into the Bork line that the *only* valid test was the effect on consumer welfare (instead of the prior "big is bad" which actually increased prices in widely dispersed industry), but has been watered down by each successive administration of either party. The DOJ now looks at "how much" pricing power the new entity will get, while the Bork/Reagan answer was, "if it's not zero, it's bad for the consumer."

      hawk, displaced economics professor

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Counterpoint, given our retarded spectrum management, T-mobile and sprint will always be a distant third, and if sprint gets auctione off in bits, the bigger cash reserves ofVerizon and AT&T will let them pick off the best parts of sprints spectrum and reduce the competition to two. Least bad case is that T-mobile gets all of sprint and can fill out their rural coverage, allowing T-Mobile to compete in much more of the market and dive AT&T to compete across all of the market instead of just the budg

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @03:33PM (#55251217)

        I'd rather see it parceled out in bankruptcy then in a single deal like this.

        This single deal would be likely be better for consumers. If the oligopoly is going to go from 4 to 3, it is better for the 3 to be roughly the same size. Sprint and T-Mobile combined are still smaller than Verizon in number of subscribers.

    • i need to look into the stock of both companies and decide if it will effect my...finances.
    • Look at it this way: if it wouldn't hurt consumers then why are they even proposing it?

    • It's like asking if all the car manufacturers, got together would that hurt competition. Yes we want one car company..(I'm being sarcastic.)
      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        "No, we don't want any cars or for that matter trucks on our roads, b.t.w. ban meat as well." - Green Parties over the world.

  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @09:09AM (#55249907) Homepage Journal

    There are two possible counter arguments to the "Fewer competitors = less competition" argument.

    The first is that both Sprint and T-Mobile are silo'd, in the public consciousness, with "Cheap and poor quality", in comparison to their other two competitors. The reputation is unfair: T-Mobile is superb right now, and Verizon has always been overrated, concentrating on technical metrics studied in surveys while running a network that ignores critical usability features like call quality and user friendliness.

    A merger would make it much easier for T-Mobile to knock down that final block in the public perception about its network. It can point out that it now has the combined coverage of both networks, matching or exceeding their competitors, and has plenty of low frequency spectrum to deal with indoor coverage issues. It would be able to argue that it is higher quality than both AT&T and Verizon on every metric.

    The second counter argument is that Sprint is failing. Badly. It's not been profitable in decades. It is being propped up by investor after investor in the hope that one of the big 3 will buy it out. Sprint is going to die, one way or another, and if it doesn't merge with T-Mobile the likely result is that it'll just go bankrupt and the assets will end up split across the big three anyway.

    There's a bigger picture here, and while yes, more competitors should equal more competition, two weak competitors in a four player market might not work as well as one strong competitor taking their place against the other two.

    • Re: Yes, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If consolidation is necessary here, then the question should become how to lower the barriers to entry in this market. Construction of a nationwide network requires a huge investment, which is the main barrier. The same could have been said for telecom prior to deregulation. Is there anything that can be done to lower the barriers to entry and increase competition?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The fundamental problem is that the spectrum leases are forever. The solution is to eminent domain them, and re-issue as 5-7 year leases. That would also make a shit-ton more flexibility then the incumbents having indefinite oligopolies.

    • Re:Yes, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 23, 2017 @09:46AM (#55250033)

      I totally disagree.

      Sprint is going to die, one way or another, and if it doesn't merge with T-Mobile the likely result is that it'll just go bankrupt and the assets will end up split across the big three anyway.

      No. In bankruptcy, Sprint's assets would be sold off to the highest bidder. With none of the "Goodwill" charge you'll see on T-Mobile's balance sheet which will hurt T-Mobile's shareholders.

      Sprint should just completely die. They're a shit company and there is no way that T-Mobile is gonna change that company's corporate culture. Kill it with the fires of bankruptcy and everyone - except for the CEOs - will be better off.

      And that's all this is: CEOs helping each other out. See, in bankruptcy all those stock options and whatnot the Sprint CEO owns becomes worthless - as well as all of the big shareholder's. There are some bigshots shots who will lose big if Sprint goes under. So one calls a buddy and gets a buyout and all the rich people keep their money.

      We little people will get it in the ass. Less competition; we get it. Never works any other way.

      This is a perfect example of the perils of Capitalism that Adam Smith warned us about.

      • Re:Yes, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Falconnan ( 4073277 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @01:45PM (#55250899)

        I'm not as convinced it's a horrible plan, but you make some excellent points. The problem with allowing Sprint's assets to be simply auctioned off are not minor. T-Mobile, being the smallest of the "Big 3" means they will probably be priced out of the auction for the best assets, further pushing them aside. As for CEOs helping each other out., that's not entirely wrong, but I have good reason to suspect the reality is more complicated.

        I had to do an ethical analysis of CEO compensation for a class some time ago, and it got pretty deep. Most executives have big egos and hate the notion of getting help from each other, but love being the one the other person needs. As for competition, T-Mobile likely wants to gain specific assets that are in Sprint's portfolio that can't simply be siphoned off in an auction anyway. More to the point, T-Mobile's CEO is not going to take a hit on his personal balance sheet to help a "not-really-a-friend" friend.

        Thank you, though, for pointing out Adam Smith wasn't full-on laissez-faire. It seems most miss this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sprint + T-mobile network does not equal better coverage. I would bet that both T-mobile and Sprint are both represented in cities and surrounding areas, but weak in lower populated areas. Combining the network (which are totally different protocols last I checked anyway) will do very little to increase coverage to areas that neither network covered.

      • Tmobile and Sprint today are both LTE networks. Their legacy networks are different, but that hardly matters with LTE sim cards, unless you go far, far out of coverage areas.
      • Sprint has a lot of unused spectrum that they don’t have the cash to build out. I think this spectrum + T-Mobile’s cash could be something that would make T-Mobile more competitive against the bigger Verizon & ATT.
      • by torkus ( 1133985 )

        On day one, it would not...probably.

        But giving one company access to the spectrum of both (plus the physical infrastructure which surely will require some adjustment) is a huge benefit. TMO has already begin building out lower frequency infra and has a very aggressive schedule for it which will solve their building-penetration problem.

        Add in what Sprint offers and you've got spectrum for oodles of bandwidth, lots of users, building penetration/coverage and consolidating the extra costs associated with havi

    • You start by saying yes in your subject line but then spend 4 paragraphs explaining why the merger will help consumers.

      And the answer is yes, this will hurt consumers. T-Mobile stopped charging overage fees for data use because they were about to get swallowed up and needed something to compete. It worked, but they only did it to compete. The cell phone market is completely saturated and they're not competing for the same pool of users. The point of the merger is to eliminate that competition by elimina
    • Good points. Also, now is a much different time in the cellular technology roadmap, where these originally completely non-interoperable, non-compatible systems can actually use the same fielded infrastructure. Remember T-Mobile was the first and only true GSM carrier, while Sprint (and Nextel) were weird mashups of other technologies. There was no common component. With that all changed now,

      While most people think about their personal handset as their interaction with the carrier, the carriers are extremely

    • The problem is that the carriers are highly vertically integrated. They own the tower networks, they provide cellular service, and they sell phones. This results in things like Verizon (with arguably the best tower network) being able to foist the highest service prices and poorest phone selection onto its customers.

      If you break up that vertical integration, then most of the monopoly/oligopoly problems disappear.
      • Companies which own cell phone tower networks should not be allowed to sell phones or ser
    • > The reputation is unfair: T-Mobile is superb right now

      Unless you're in South Florida, where a big chunk of Dade & Broward counties STILL have no working T-mobile data service almost TWO WEEKS post-Irma (Verizon and AT&T had few outages that were mostly resolved within a day or two). Somehow, they're STILL having backhaul problems for data service.

      I mean, fuck, even SPRINT had data service mostly restored a few days ago. T-Mo must have somehow found shittiest, least-resilient south Broward backh

      • Update: apparently, if a Nexus 6P with N2G47W radio modem firmware is without working LTE, HSPA(+), and GPRS for several days, it stops even TRYING to use them until the next hard shutdown & full reboot.

        I've done numerous "hot" reboots over the past two weeks (restarting Android, without going all the way and rebooting everything), toggled wi-fi off and on, and tried using T-mobile away from my home's wi-fi multiple times over the past 12 days, to no avail. Zero data.

        For the hell of it, I decided to tr

    • The first is that both Sprint and T-Mobile are silo'd, in the public consciousness, with "Cheap and poor quality", in comparison to their other two competitors. The reputation is unfair: T-Mobile is superb right now, and Verizon has always been overrated, concentrating on technical metrics studied in surveys while running a network that ignores critical usability features like call quality and user friendliness.

      It's also unfair because T-Mobile is no longer particularly cheap.

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      Add to that - it's a zero sum game. There's a finite number of subscribers (even allowing for additional market penetration, having 17 cell phone carriers wouldn't magically make more subs appear), and a finite amount of frequencies which are divided up between the carriers - and various other uses of course.

      A single company using all those resources and available to all subscribers - in theory - would be best for everyone. Of course, corporate greed makes that a non-starter. The concern here is TMO merg

  • As long as the current management at T-mobile stays in place, and they don't all of the sudden decide to get greedy then it should be a win for everyone. Two companies with not horrible networks will become one with a great network, and they can then really mess with AT&T and Verizon. The two leaders in the industry, just kind of tolerated T-mobile and Sprint, now the company that comes out of this merger will really make them sweat, and this should only shake up the industry.
    • What normally happens in Mergers.
      You have the larger failing company, and the smaller growing company.
      They merge. The fact the larger company (although failing) has more stock of ownership they make the rules, and normally push out the management in the smaller. Thus often killing what caused the smaller company to succeed. So you now have a larger failing company but it will now take longer for it to fail.
      Sometimes if the smaller company has enough personality and loyal customer base then they may do th

      • by Higaran ( 835598 )
        Yes, but on this particular merger, Tmobile is supposed to be the one in charge, and they are the stronger company, while Sprint is the one just kind of getting by. This will help strengthen its position in the market place, and help it mess with the two big guys.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        We'll see what happens in the regulatory world. If AT&T and Verizon oppose the merger that will mean they've decided that the combination of Sprint/T-Mobile is dangerous. If they don't oppose the merger...

    • From what little I know of T-Mobile's operations side, I think they are well ahead of Sprint for long-term planning and have a much better/leaner operational model. The value of Sprint is almost entirely in their subscriber base, and T-mobile would be paying a premium for them through a merger.

      Sprint used to have a lot of their own fiber, which could be a value for smaller regions or POPs, but again it is limited.

      While I would prefer four viable competitors, that doesn't appear to be viable much longer. B

  • A merger is supposed to help the companies' and their investors. A merger is not meant to "help" consumers. So asking if a merger will "hurt" consumers is kinda sorta irrelevant.

    If what "helps" the companies' and their investors also "helps" consumers . . . well, that's great.

    If what "helps" the companies' and their investors "hurts" consumers . . . well, that's just tough luck.

    When planning a merger, the interests of consumers are the last thing that the merger cabal will consider, if even at all . .

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The point of a merger is to stuff money into the pockets of thr executive board. When Sprint sold 75% to Softbank (China), the board took home billions. I don't like it when huge infrastructures are sold to foreign states, and I switched from Sprint to TMobile when that happened (yes, even though Mobile is not a US corp.) So my question is, to what extent does this merger make TMobile park of Softbank?

      • by torkus ( 1133985 )

        T-Mobile IS a US corporation and they're even publicly listed on Nasdaq.

        DK may have a controlling interest but also access to much deeper pockets and in a large part responsible for enabling TMO to be disruptive to the US-based cellular industry.

        If they merge, part of it would include softbank divesting their interest in sprint OR softbank getting a certain interest in the combined company afterwards.

        You confuse classic ownership (this is my baseball, I do with it as I please) with corporate share-based own

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @09:50AM (#55250055)

      Unfortunately the term "The companies first priority should be to the share holders" has been taken out of context.
      Back when it was written, Companies would often take the share holders money and use it just to enrich themselves, or will give it away to their church, or other crazy cause, even at the companies expense. So the shareholders were often investing in companies that were killing themselves. With the change of focus to prioritize the shareholder, it means that the company should use their money to invest back into the company, sell more product, higher people to make better products... Even if this is at a cost of a bad quarterly report. However the statement had been taken out of context so now it is about hacking the numbers to keep the shareholders quarterly profits high. At the expense of long term growth.

      • Unfortunately the term "The companies first priority should be to the share holders" has been taken out of context. Back when it was written, Companies would often take the share holders money and use it just to enrich themselves, or will give it away to their church, or other crazy cause, even at the companies expense. So the shareholders were often investing in companies that were killing themselves. With the change of focus to prioritize the shareholder, it means that the company should use their money to invest back into the company, sell more product, higher people to make better products... Even if this is at a cost of a bad quarterly report. However the statement had been taken out of context so now it is about hacking the numbers to keep the shareholders quarterly profits high. At the expense of long term growth.

        I would mod this up 100 times if I could. Once a company goes public, it's no longer about running a good, solid organization and producing a good product. Instead it becomes maximizing profits at the cost of what made the company attractive in the first place to keep from getting murdered by Wall Street.

        • Companies can be a good company after going public, however normally the owners still have majority share, and the other investors realize that profits are not expected to show for a while.
          Normally with stock prices the companies profits is actually usually only a small factor in it, as the day traders will not hold onto the stock long enough for the quarterly report. But the longer term investors (the more conservative ones) will normally look at all the data before making their decisions. They may see a

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      Companies exist to generate money for investors (shareholders, etc.). That's it. Not for consumers, not for employees...

      With that said, a merger of TMO and Sprint combines their spectrum and offers significantly more opportunity to build out complete coverage with good speeds...which consumers like and buy into...which generates more revenue. Sometimes consumers do benefit from corporate greed...particularly when a CEO understands that giving consumers what they actually desire can drive business growth.

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @09:30AM (#55249989)
    I guess it's time to retire Betteridge's law.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This has nothing to do with Betteridge's Law. If that applied to any question, the answer to any Ask Slashdot question would also be no. That's absurd. This headline is asking your opinion of whether the lending merger between T-Mobile and Sprint will harm consumers. Betteridge's Law does not apply here.

      Ian Betteridge observed that sometimes journalists who hadn't adequately researched a story and couldn't confirm the story would still run with it. To avoid printing false statements, journalists would write

      • So as this is an actual headline, and not some random question, you are not only arguing that slashdot editors throughly researched the article, but that there are no facts we can really know about how mergers in general or this one specifically will harm consumers beforehand?
  • by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Saturday September 23, 2017 @09:39AM (#55250015) Homepage
    I think the question is whether the structure of the governance of the resulting organization is such that investors can require them to fuck over customers if such action shown to generate more profit. I've been a customer of both T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile (now wholly owned by Sprint), and it's scary for me when I read that Softbank wants a say in how the resulting company is run.

    OTOH, if T-Mobile signal starts originating from the towers used by Sprint, then they'll finally be getting strong enough signal to provide for more than intermittent text messages to my house. I eagerly await the 600 MHz LTE.
    • own the House, Senate, POTUS and most of the judiciary (we like to forget everything below the Supreme court, but they don't). They also have repeatably stated they're in favor of minimal regulation and a hands off approach. There will be no governance. It's going to be a free for all. The question is will that be a good thing. A lot of Americans think so as they voted for the party that supports it. We're about to see how well it works in practice.
      • I apologize for communicating poorly. When I used the word "governance" above, I had intended to use it in reference to the internal structure of the organization, not in reference to governance imposed by elected officials. I do agree with you that governmental restrictions on mergers an acquisitions will likely only be applied to those neglecting their baksheesh, there's no current incentive to do so in order to appease voters.
  • I wanted compulsory GSM, not a Merger.
    Everywhere CDMA goes, you wind up with people who can't switch, who wind up unable to keep their devices when they switch carriers in the US, Canadian users who pay exorbitant Roaming fees, so on and so forth. But the truth is there are only four real carriers in the US, two are GSM, and two are CDMA. Those CDMA carriers should not be there, there should be 5 or 6 GSM carriers that own Towers, and this confusing MVNO scam needs to stop.

    • That's what T-Mobile will most likely do in a merger situation. The royalty fees paid to Qualcomm for the use of CDMA are just a revenue sucker. T-Mobile did the same with MetroPCS. They retired the CDMA network and repurposed the spectrum to GSM/LTE.
    • You don't want that (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @12:37PM (#55250677)
      GSM initially used TDMA - time division multiple access. Basically each phone took turns talking to the tower. This was terrible for data because each phone took a timeslice of the bandwidth regardless of how much data they had to transmit, or even if they had no data to transmit. If a tower had 50 Mbps of data bandwidth and had 50 phones connected to it, each phone only got about 0.5 Mbps (there is padding at the ends of the timeslices to account for latency due to the phone's distance from the tower and the speed of light).

      CDMA (code division multiple access) phones don't use timeslices. They all transmit simultaneously and the tower tells them apart because they're using orthogonal codes. Kinda like writing horizontally and vertically on the same sheet of paper. Your letters overlap, but they're distinct (orthogonal) enough that you can still figure out what the letters are in the direction you're reading. CDMA has no problem with data because each phone sees the other phones as an increase in the noise floor. Since the data bandwidth is the signal to noise ratio, the more phones are transmitting, the higher the noise and the lower the data bandwidth for a single phone. If fewer phones are transmitting, the noise floor drops, and each phone gets more data bandwidth. So in CDMA the data bandwidth available to each phone scales automatically. If there's just one phone using data, it can use all of the tower's 50 Mbps. If there are 50 phones transmitting, each gets 1 Mbps.

      CDMA completely destroyed GSM in cellular data performance. Within a year GSM threw in the towel and amended the GSM spec to add UMTS [wikipedia.org] which used wideband CDMA for data. That's why GSM carriers took about a year longer than CDMA carriers to move to 3G data. That's why GSM phones could talk and use data at the same time - they had two different radios, a TDMA radio for voice, a CDMA radio for data. CDMA phones only had a single CDMA radio so couldn't do both at once.

      If you'd gotten your wish and the U.S. had gone along with the rest of the world and mandated GSM, CDMA wouldn't have happened and cellular data speeds today would probably be 1-2 Mbps. We would not have LTE because most LTE implementations use OFDMA (orthogonal frequencies instead of orthogonal codes). CDMA was the proof of concept that this crazy "everyone transmits at the same time and we tell them apart by orthogonality" idea actually worked when scaled up to a nationwide cellular network. Without that proof, there would've been little incentive to develop the higher-power consumption OFDMA.

      GSM vs CDMA is actually a perfect example of why market competition produces better results than government-mandated standards. (The SIM card is very cool though and I'm glad it got incorporated into LTE.) Government should not be mandating technological standards. It should stick to mandating standardized requirements, and leave it up to the market to come up with the best technologies to meet or exceed those requirements.
      • To be sure, no one is bitching about CMDA-the-technology. They're bitching about CDMA-the-Qualcomm-standard, which is an anti-consumer, vendor lock-in pain in the ass.


      • I know it's all the fashion to bitch about how Slashdot has declined from its glory days, but it's posts like this that make it worthwhile to keep reading.

        Thanks, Solandri, for that informative post.
  • I am on a plan that has a high speed cap at 2 GB per line per month. I don't use mobile data that much, and I definitely don't stream video on these tiny screens. I rarely exceed even this small data allowance. Now this plan is not available any longer. They are pushing a 32 GB a month, (or 50 GB a month) high speed data plan at twice the cost. To their credit they are willing to let me keep my old plan, and even add a new line to it. But they cap it at 5 lines per account.

    Most people don't use that much

    • I agree with you completely. Those of us who don't use much data really don't want to be forced into "unlimited" plans which end up costing significantly more and starts the path of saturating the networks again. I was not happy when T-Mobile started up "Unlimited" again and offered no lower-cost, limited plans for those who don't want tons and tons of data. Fortunately, T-Mobile was perfectly happy to grandfather my plan, and even upgrade it twice with more data and features at no extra cost. This doesn

  • Firstly, the physics of mobile communications limits the amount of communication that can happen per second. In the USA, the current structure allows companies to buy spectrum and use it exclusively; nobody forces you to share. A merger of the two smallest of the four biggest companies would combine their physics resources, allowing them to compete on a larger scale. Secondly, nature abhors a vacuum. If fourth place opens up, somebody could fill it. While this could mean combining the next five largest to
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Isn't the spectrum pretty much fully allocated? If Sprint merges with T-Mobile, will there be enough surplus spectrum for any new entrant to even build a network?

      If I was the head of the FCC, I would seriously consider a mandate that wireless carries be forced to enter into a technology consortium and standardize their wireless radio systems for universal handset compatibility & portability. I think there's probably a "best" radio technical standard out there and that carrier technical "innovations" o

  • If history is an indicator, less competition means higher prices and lower quality of service. There is a reason that there are regulations that are supposed to be put into place to prevent monopolies for exactly that reason. But what do I know? I am just a lowly human being....
  • Fewer offers leads to either lower quality or to higher prices or both.

  • Less competition is always bad. If anything, government should foster more competition and make the level of entry into markets easier. Although, I see the need for that more with residential broadband than mobile. In many places there is only one provider for broadband and in many other places none at all. Those places who have two or more, consumers still pay significantly more than in most other countries (who tend to have providers offering better service).
  • Finally, the exception to Betteridge's Law has been found...

    Betteridge's Law: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."

    In this case, however, YES, a T-Mobile-Sprint merger WOULD hurt consumers. Have no doubt about this, customers rank dead last in things that T-Mobile or Sprint give a shit about.

  • why does t-mobile have this dead set goal of whoring itself to the highest bidder. there doing great on there own and just need some expansion outside the big city to truly put a hurting on the big 2.
  • There is Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint right now. Only 4 options for 320 million people in the United States. 4 may not seem quite like a traditional oligarchy but the competition among them is already so little and even among them T-mobile is the only one pushing competitors around with cheaper pricing for better offers. When is the last time you watched a sports with only had 4 people playing? We are lucky even 1 out of the 4 of them gets half decent ideas. In my opinion for the current size
  • Yes, there is competition in the high-data-amounts and unlimited data markets but there isn't much out there in the cheap seats. But it doesn't feel like a great deal overall. Until Xfinity Mobile - we'll see whether or not they keep their low prices into the future. Losing a carrier would be a negative for consumers.
  • I remember when the government broke up the "phone company" in the 80's. It's taken over 30 years, to almost put it back together. If the t-mobile/Sprint merger goes through, that will leave 3 "giants" for mobile communications in the United States, Verizon, At&t, T-mobile. Aside from the straight-talk, cricket and other MVNO's, that's your choice. Competition has caused innovation to explode. For those of you too young to remember, to have a phone, you went to "MaBell"...you WENT to the phone compan
  • No, I actually don't think it will.

    T-Mobile seems to have it's goal set on becoming the Netcom of the Internet. (Remember Netcom? Back in the days when you paid by the hour to access the internet thru AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe, etc. Netcom came out with the flat $20/month rate and forever altered the industry.

    T-Mobile seems to be attempting to do the same. Sprint while by far the cheapest cell network provider, is often routinely the lowest in coverage, etc. T-Mobile, while not always as competitive as Spr

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