Just as predicted by many, the Obama administration has filed a block against the AT&T and T-Mobile merger due to anti-competitive concerns. Sprint and Verizon (although Sprint has been more vocal) are concerned with the possibility that the merger could squeeze them out and allow AT&T to charge higher prices without any repercussions. While this may not make a huge difference with Verizon, it would sure impact Sprint.
The purpose of the merger was to help AT&T increase its network capacity while meeting the higher demands for high-speed Internet services. All of the wireless providers have been faced with heavy demands in data in the last few years due in part to new smartphones that were essentially started by Apple—at least in the sense of productivity through the advent of the App store. After the iPhone came out, AT&T once claimed that network activity increased over 300% and later admitted that their network was not entirely ready to support such increases.
This new era in smartphones prompted every carrier to increase their cell capacity and push toward new 4G networks. Verizon and Sprint led the forefront on this while AT&T keeps saying their 4G network is just around the corner. All the while, smartphone usage had been increasing and AT&T has a bad wrap to shake.
Even though the block has been filed, the FCC has not commented on the case and no decisions have been made. With that said, the merger might still be a possibility, but there will not doubt be some heavy restrictions and monitoring to ensure safe and fair business practices are being conducted.
My two cents
Personally, I’ve been with AT&T for so many years (and name changes), I don’t even know where to begin explaining just how I feel about this. On one hand, it might be nice to increase network capacity and possibly even better our service quality. It would also be nice to have a real 4G network so Apple can start making 4G phones. However, if getting these things means that AT&T could slap more and more restrictions on our services while also raising prices, then I’m not for it.
If this merger happened, it might be harder to switch to another company such as Sprint because at some point, the could potentially go out of business or be absorbed by AT&T too! AT&T has a long history of being a monopoly and the government has stepped in to break them apart at least once before. In fact, Verizon (formally GTE) is actually part of the original AT&T breakup.
All I can say at this point is that as long as service gets better and prices don’t go up, then I’m all for a merger. If not, then forget it.