AT&T Buys T-Mobile – How Will This Affect Shoppers?

AT&T announced today that it plans to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. If the acquisition is approved by regulators, the deal would make AT&T the largest wireless provider in the US. Verizon would be second, follow by Sprint as a distant third.

Following the announcement, T-Mobile published a FAQ on their site. In it, they point out that a merger, if it goes through, would be approximately 12 months away. Until that time, they say, T-Mobile will “…remain a separate company and continue to operate independently.”

T-Mobile adds that there will be no change in service during that time, that billing will remain the same.

Concerning why they are doing this, T-Mobile says that “Bringing together these two world-class businesses will create significant benefits for customers. The merger will ensure the deployment of a robust 4G LTE network to 95% of the U.S. population, something neither company would achieve on its own.” They also went on to state that consumers will see an almost immediate improvement in the quality of service once the two networks are integrated.

However, some say that over the long term, this deal will be bad for shoppers. The Media Access Project, which describes itself as “a non-profit, public interest law firm and advocacy organization,” immediately published a press release titled “Consumers lose when there’s less competition.”

Another organization, called Public Knowledge, a self described “public interest group working to defend citizens’ rights in the emerging digital culture,” also decried the potential deal. They said in a statement that an AT&T and T-Mobile merger would bring “higher prices, fewer choices, less innovation.”

While most experts agree that a merger will help the companies roll out a nationwide 4G network in a shorter time period, actual users may resist the deal. In an unscientific poll on mashable.com, votes were running 60/40 against this being a good deal for consumers.

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Faroh Sauder has spent more than 30 years working as a journalist and educator. He has written on politics, international affairs, civil rights, and consumer education. Now mostly retired, Faroh continues to stay current on tech and consumer issues and reports on his interests here at News For Shoppers.