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Justice Dept. Files Antitrust Complaint Against AT&T and T-Mobile Merger

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-ma-was-so-close-to-being-rebuilt dept.

AT&T 301

Hitting the front page for the first time, AngryDeuce writes with a piece of exciting news hot off the news wire. From the article: "The Justice Department is blocking AT&T's $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile USA, saying the acquisition of the No. 4 wireless carrier in the country by No. 2 AT&T would reduce competition and raise prices. The deal has faced tough opposition from consumer groups and No. 3 carrier Sprint since it was announced in March." The DOJ has released a full statement on their decision to file the antitrust suit, and AT&T has drafted a response. So much for AT&T's paltry promise of bringing 5000 unskilled call center jobs back to the U.S. if the merger were approved. Competition may yet live!

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+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (4, Insightful)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265448)

Sure, they'd hire 5000 new people, but how many would they fire from T-mobile in the process?
My money is on a good deal more than 5000.

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (4, Funny)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265512)

Throttling bandwidth, stripping out cost savings opportunities from service plans, locking down phones... that's a lot of work.

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266086)

That's a lot of temporary work. It's an end-goal, not ongoing maintenance.

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265568)

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265668)

T-Mobile USA != T-Mobile

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (3)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265646)

I think those jobs would most likely be offshored despite what tfa says. I ha
ve yet to speak to anyone in a call center who's primary language is English.

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265790)

Those call centers must be in northern VA then...

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265812)

I am sitting a floor above ~400 call center agents, this is in the USA. 100% of them use English as their primary language. 10% of them also speak another language.

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265854)

Research parkway?

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266120)

Whose call center? Certainly not any that I've contacted in the last 5 years.

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266222)

Hey! I am also!

The VW/Audi call center is right below me (in Michigan).
That is, until we both move down the street to the other building, then I think I'll be below them

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266022)

Out of pure curiosity... how did you post that? I find it odd that whatever you used placed a line break in the middle of the word "have". I've seen length limited posts before and always wondered why, but this one strikes me as extra odd.

Re:+ 5000 jobs, - many more. (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266154)

Presumably it's because the ' key is next to the key, and he didn't use the mandatory preview.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265904)

Baghrea, India - Abrupt halt to the creation of new AT&T call center has left the mayor and hundreds of tentative call center employees angry.

"We had assurance from their top man that once the T-Mobile acquisition completes, this call center would handle bulk of the customer calls during and after the acquisition. We went a head and had supporting infrastructure put in, and then they pull the rug right out from under our feet!" the mayor complained bitterly.

"We wasted spent months of our lives perfecting our American English accent to work in this call center. Whatever would we do now?" the now unemployed work force vented.

(yes, I made these up.)

AT&T's Response (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265454)

"We are surprised and disappointed by today's action, particularly since we have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DOJ that this action was being contemplated. We plan to ask for an expedited hearing so the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed. The DOJ has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive affects and we intend to vigorously contest this matter in court. We remain confident that this merger is in the best interest of consumers and our country, and the facts will prevail in court."

FWIW, I think the Justice Department did right today. As a T-Mobile customer, I am very happy. Here's hoping that the justice department succeeds.

Re:AT&T's Response (1)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265552)

Translation: AT&T apparently did spend enough on bribes erm lobbying to swade the Justice Department.

How can anyone think that higher prices and less competition is in the best interest of consumers and the country. Oh yea I forgot this is AT&T they live in their own little dillusional world.

Re:AT&T's Response (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265848)

Hey! We totally pinkie-swear that if we are given nigh-unlimited power to bleed the nation's wireless users dry, we promise to build a couple of towers in rural nofuckingwhereistan and call it "Universal Access"! C'mon, it's a totally reasonable trade!

Re:AT&T's Response (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265950)

That's one of the problems right there. There's no teeth in the promises that corporations make. At a minimum they should be broken up if they fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.

Re:AT&T's Response (2)

berzerke (319205) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266178)

...AT&T they live in their own little dillusional world.

More like they think they are above the law, and to a large degree, they are correct. :(

Re:AT&T's Response (2)

chaboud (231590) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265554)

Agreed. I'm quite happy that the Department of Justice has fallen on the side of reason (for once). As a T-Mobile customer who moved to T-Mobile to avoid AT&T, I'm hopeful that this merger will fall apart, giving T-Mobile a bit of cash (meh) and some more spectrum (yay!).

Re:AT&T's Response (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265594)

AT&T doublespeak. Yes they met with the DoJ and the DoJ gave no indication that they would block the ruling. However it most likely the DoJ had not formed an opinion until after reviewing the implications and AT&T's documents. Or that the DoJ probably wanted to block it from the beginning but prudence would dictate they hear from AT&T first. If they hadn't met with AT&T, then the company would complain that they were being treated unfairly.

Re:AT&T's Response (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265858)

Does doublespeak count against my 'anytime' minutes; but at twice the normal rate, or do I need to upgrade my plan?

Re:AT&T's Response (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266078)

No, doublespeak is billed on your peak minutes (twice on weekends) and also counts against your data usage (because your voice is data.)

Re:AT&T's Response (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266202)

Yes they met with the DoJ and the DoJ gave no indication that they would block the ruling

Probably they are used to Bush-era zombies who would drool, gurgle, and then stamp OK on whatever was put in front of their sow faces. The idea that the meeting actually was used to get information before making a decision is probably not what AT&T are used to.

Re:AT&T's Response (1)

joshtheitguy (1205998) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265692)

I'm not going to get too excited as I really just think it is smoke and mirrors at this point and if I had to take a guess the US Government is just putting on a show to make it look as if they tried to do something. Still if this is truly and really a legitimate attempt by the government to protect the citizens of this nation I still think that AT&T will just deploy the lobbyists, pad some campaign contributions and the deal will still go through.

Call me skeptical but I find it hard to believe that the Government is doing the right thing and if they are I really don't believe they'll resist AT&T's lobbyists.

Re:AT&T's Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265840)

FWIW, I think the Justice Department did right today. As a T-Mobile customer, I am very happy. Here's hoping that the justice department succeeds.

So, you'll be happy when T-Mobile files for bankruptcy?

Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (2)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265456)

I thought I would never live to see the day that a governmental department would block yet alone sue to block the merger of two mega corps.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (4, Funny)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265502)

Holy shit. There IS a ${deity}, after all.

(looks out the window)... wow, it's snowing outside (in South Florida), too!

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (1)

Ardx (954221) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265786)

The downside is... *dodges* ...people thought pidgeons were bad. Oh no! A whole flock of canadian oinkers!

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265522)

This is hardly unprecedented.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265644)

True. Minor concessions will be made, AT&T will still plan to screw everyone in other ways, everyone at the DoJ will pat each other on the back for having done their due diligence and the thing will move forward. Real competition and common sense will lose, as usual.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265738)

Of course. It's in the great tradition of "If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em."

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266082)

though how is T-Mobile beating AT&T right now? I think you are confused as T-Mobile is #4 and AT&T is number 1 or 2 depending on where you ask

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265988)

I predict that if the DoJ does ultimately give the OK that Sprint will file its own antitrust suit against AT&T to block the merger. Ultimately, they'd almost certainly win, the only conclusion one can make is that there would be reduced competition. Whether prices and service suffers as a result would largely be rendered moot by the decrease from 4 to 3 and possibly 2 when Sprint can no longer compete with both AT&T and Verizon.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265832)

Hardly unprecedented, but entirely unexpected for sure. As of late it seems that there is nothing that the mega corps can't and won't do to increase profit margin while our elected representatives turn a blind eye.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265810)

Agreed. What sucks is that when a more "pro-business" presidential candidate wins the election in ~14 months, he'll appoint an attorney general who will see to it that these types of mergers go forth unfettered in the name of "innovation and more jobs" (which we all know is bs).

business as usual (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265990)

other cell carriers have a lot more to do with it than common sense in the government. I fear this "outbreak" you speak of is at best, overly exaggerated.

Hallelujah (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265460)

If I wanted AT&T as my service provider I would have subscribed to their service.

If you have to buy customers perhaps it's time to change ones business strategy.

Re:Hallelujah (2)

tsotha (720379) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265882)

This is more about buying spectrum than buying customers.

Re:Hallelujah (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266116)

This is about denying spectrum. You may not be aware that Sprint was set to buy T-Mobile for $10B less than AT&T. How could T-Mobile be worth more to AT&T unless they intended to engage in anticompetitive behavior?

The cynic in me says that this is merely posturing on the part of the present administration and that they have no intention of actually preventing the merger.

Re:Hallelujah (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266016)

Indeed, I ended up with AT&T following AT&T's purchase of Cingular. The service went down the crapper pretty much over night. Service still hasn't recovered to what it was when Cingular was providing the service.

This is a bit like the 3 or so acquisitions of my parents' cable account before they ditched cable for DirecTV, each cable provider was worse than the previous one and the cost sky rocketed even as there was no meaningful improvement in the selection of programming provided.

Re: cash for customers (1)

ace37 (2302468) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266026)

I'm sure it didn't help Microsoft any, but I didn't mind when bing sent me a check last year for buying a nice camera on tigerdirect. I'll gladly encourage them to continue using a business model that involves giving me free money!

And honestly, it seems to be working wonders for Firefox with google paying big bucks to be the default search engine--and unlike MS, I'm sure google is actually getting a positive return on that investment.

Hallelujah! (5, Informative)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265472)

Their own internal documents show AT&T does not need T-Mobile to expand service, and that AT&T intends to raise prices. This is a deal that should not happen. At last the DOJ does something right on the merger front.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265718)

Ah but everyone knows this deal will lower prices! AT&T themselves have made economic models that say so! After all the "merger will lessen strains on the company’s wireless network, lower costs and increase quality, AT&T said in the filing." So obviously prices will be lower.

For AT&T.

More Jobs, Better Prices (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265486)

Sure they could afford to bring back a paltry 5000 jobs.

They would be eliminating one of their main competitors, laying off way more than 5000 (more skilled!) workers, and opening the way to raising their prices by grabbing a customer base with even less choice and jacking up their rates.

Nice to see government doing what its supposed to do for a change.

Re:More Jobs, Better Prices (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265890)

Their "5000 jobs" claim seems to belong in the same pile as the "Give us $100 million to build a stadium, and we promise to hire 6 hotdog vendors and a janitorial team!" arguments that get trotted out every time a pro sports team shakes down a municipality to build their business infrastructure for them... These sorts of things are so openly cynical and insultingly paltry that I'm honestly not sure why anybody even bothers pretending...

Re:More Jobs, Better Prices (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266064)

With stadiums it's generally an honest, if incorrect belief, whereas in this case, I'm pretty sure they know that it's not going to happen. They're not going to need as many employees to do the work and consequently I can't imagine how this wouldn't result in massive layoffs. Beyond that, I have a really hard time believing that they'll keep prices lower when Verizon and Sprint need to merge to remain competitive.

And let's be honest, AT&T service sucks, and it has sucked for a number of years, and quite frankly it isn't getting any better.

merger in my pants! (0)

slashpot (11017) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265510)

The Justice Dept. can file its Antitrust complaint - in my pants!

Re:merger in my pants! (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265548)

In Soviet Russia, pants complain you!

Cue the pundits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265526)

I wonder how long until the usual conservative pundits start ranting and raving about their sudden new interest in anti-trust law.

Re:Cue the pundits. (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265936)

As soon as their checks clear.

From the TFA (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265530)

A failure of the deal puts T-Mobile in a difficult position. It's struggling to compete with the larger carriers, and owner Deutsche Telekom AG has said it's not willing to invest more in the venture.

However, AT&T has promised T-Mobile $3 billion in cash if the deal doesn't go through, plus spectrum rights and agreements that could be worth billions more.

Huh? If the deal DOESN'T go through, AT&T is giving T-Mobile money and spectrum?

I don't get it.

Re:From the TFA (3, Insightful)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265596)

It makes sense. Think about all the business that T-Mobile lost while this thing was pending. People did not renew, some people did not switch to T-Mobile due to the uncertainty, etc. If it DOESN'T go through, T-Mobile needs to be compensated for that loss.

Re:From the TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266130)

Well, AT&T stock has fallen from this, and at least one article mentions a "cancellation fee" if the deal doesn't go through, but gives no amount - http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2011/08/att_t-mobile_merger_blocked.html

Re:From the TFA (5, Informative)

generalhavok (1432165) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266242)

It makes sense. Think about all the business that T-Mobile lost while this thing was pending. People did not renew, some people did not switch to T-Mobile due to the uncertainty, etc. If it DOESN'T go through, T-Mobile needs to be compensated for that loss.

Copying a post of mine from earlier, yes, T-Mobile actually will be compensated quite well for this.

If this deal is blocked, it would not be bad news for T-Mobile as some here have claimed. According to Bloomberg, [bloomberg.com]

"Should regulators reject the deal, which would create the biggest U.S. wireless carrier, AT&T would have to pay Deutsche Telekom $3 billion in cash. It would also provide T-Mobile USA with wireless spectrum in some regions and reduced charges for calls into AT&T’s network, for a total package valued at as much as $7 billion, Deutsche Telekom said this month."

So T-Mobile would get $3 billion in cash, more spectrum, and reduced fees for calls going through AT&T's network. This would seem to be good news for T-Mobile, as all of these things would make them more competitive.

Re:From the TFA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265634)

Standard practice in M&A. The acquiring company must always put something on the table if the deal doesn't go through due to the restrictions placed on the company to be acquired by the SEC and the agreement the two companies enter into. Google has put similar stuff on the table for Motorola if their deal doesn't go through.

Re:From the TFA (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265676)

A failure of the deal puts T-Mobile in a difficult position. It's struggling to compete with the larger carriers, and owner Deutsche Telekom AG has said it's not willing to invest more in the venture.

However, AT&T has promised T-Mobile $3 billion in cash if the deal doesn't go through, plus spectrum rights and agreements that could be worth billions more.

Huh? If the deal DOESN'T go through, AT&T is giving T-Mobile money and spectrum?

I don't get it.

Usually its in exchange for immediately ceasing to market directly or indirectly against them, giving them all the details of their internal organization, design, plans, supplier contact information, and procedures.

If these agreements were not standard, then legal corporate espionage would kinda exist sorta... MS could "plan" to buy Apple, examine every tiny little detail of Apple, and when the govt laughs at the idea, they laugh back because they got $Billions worth of information. As they do exist, its kinda weirder yet, if you have a terminally ill company (t mobile?) then you can try to sell its information for frankly more than its worth.... and/or if it turns out your new purchase is a lemon you can save face, by making the govt, make you stop.

Standard /. car analogy is you're usually stuck buying your date dinner regardless if you get some in the back seat of the car later on. Maybe not my greatest moment of /. car analogies; but at least I tried.

Sprint and T-Mo should merge (0)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265556)

the crappiest carriers in the USA who did the race to the bottom thing by offering the cheapest prices but the worst phones until recently suddenly find themselves in trouble. Sprint is the worst with their proprietary wimax offering. not only that but they should offer unlimited data so all the data hoggers would leave VZW and AT&T and improve service for the rest of us

T-Mo has a good phone selection this year and Sprint is getting better as well but Apple killed them with the iphone

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (4, Informative)

jittles (1613415) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265648)

The HTC Evo 4G and Evo 3D are both great phones (3D gimmicking asside). Just because they aren't iPhones, doesn't mean they aren't good. And yes Sprint has poor coverage in a few areas, but they have amazing coverage in others. Not to mention you can't beat the price. I left AT&T and my iPhone after AT&T decided they could alter the way they applied my corporate discount in the middle of my contract. Even after paying an early termination fee, I was saving $30 a month with Sprint in just a few months.

Oh yeah and I have a hell of a lot fewer dropped calls with Sprint, too.And no more "The network is busy" when trying to make a phone call.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265956)

Sprint customer here since 2002. Great coverage in northern VA and in DC. I travel to various large cities around the US and I've never had an "area" problem, maybe some spotty coverage in server rooms, bathroom of hotel and in some valleys here and there on vacations etc but that's it. Sprint customer support? That completely SUCKS ass, way too many lies, half truths, and CS reps that refuse to give their names (other than maybe Bill P or Jane S) or their location and often refuse to read back the account notes they took about your call so you can hold them accountable for what they claim when it doesn't happen. An example... "Yes sir, there will be no shipping charge or activation fee for that replacement phone". When I get my replacement phone, I would see a $36 change on my bill and an additional $9 for shipping. Now it is my word against Bill P from where only god knows who is no where to be found.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266192)

I agree fully. I made a similar transition from Verizon to Sprint after seeing the absurd charges Verizon levels on texting and data plans, as well as their lack of any decent HTC Android phones. Yes, Verizon has some great voice plans, but my wife and I use our phones for far more than voice calls, now. I made up my early termination fee within a few months, and have been saving $50 per month from there on out.

The tradeoff? Urban coverage for rural coverage. With Verizon, I had great data coverage in the middle of the Great Basin, but with Sprint I actually have coverage in my office! For me, at least, the latter is a bit more useful.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (2)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265758)

I'm actually sort of expecting a Sprint and T-Mobile combination. I've been happy with Sprint via Virgin Mobile but would prefer them to move to GSM and amp up their offerings, coverage, and user base.

I was grudgingly considering a move to AT&T for an iPhone, primarily because my wife uses them so I could get the family rate. But with the recent iPhone Sprint rumors I've decided to wait; I expect that with Sprint I can pay just a little more for the same service and not have to give any money to warrantless-wiretappers.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265926)

Sprint and T-Mobile? They don't even use the same technologies! That makes about as much sense as an AMD / ATi merger! Oh, wait...

On the bright side, at least the new Intel server motherboards stopped coming with those horribly crappy on-board ATi ES1000 video chips, replaced with some Matrox 200 descendant that's refreshingly less crappy. On the bright side for the telecom industry... hmm, I don't see any bright side for any of the telecom mergers.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

thripper (965380) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266140)

Sprint and T-Mobile? They don't even use the same technologies! That makes about as much sense as an AMD / ATi merger! Oh, wait...

On the bright side, at least the new Intel server motherboards stopped coming with those horribly crappy on-board ATi ES1000 video chips, replaced with some Matrox 200 descendant that's refreshingly less crappy. On the bright side for the telecom industry... hmm, I don't see any bright side for any of the telecom mergers.

Matrox is as crap as the old ones. The driver from either or intel or matrox is having a lot of hardtime determining that there *is* a Matrox chip on the frikin MB.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266090)

Sprint customer service pissed me off, but the coverage around here is easily the best in my experience. I rarely if ever had a dropped call and I was getting bars where none of the other folks were getting bars. Considering I'm living in Seattle and there are portions of the city without any coverage from AT&T at all, I think it bodes poorly if the DoJ ultimately backs off.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265816)

As an Android user from just about the start I can hardly complain about T-Mo phone selection.

Their coverage is clearly lesser than their peers, but I rarely run into a dead zone - mainly in the mountains/etc. Just about anywhere I go I not only have coverage, but 4G coverage and I reliably get multi-Mbps transfer rates.

I really don't need to see any improvements with T-Mo. I really was hoping the merger would fall through because T-Mo has a history of supporting Nexus phones and the non-Nexus phones tend to be easy to root, and ATT is the complete opposite. T-Mo also has lower rates, softer caps, and fewer (but not non-existent) predatory practices.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265838)

I don't know if this would work out all that well as Sprint is CDMA and T-Mobile is GSM. The last time a CDMA service was merged with GSM was when Cingular bought out AT&T and then shut down their CDMA service. My sister was on AT&T then. Her service went from being the most reliable to horrible when that happened.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266088)

it's not GSM but UMTS/HSPA/HSUPA/HSPDA and other new modulations. UMTS was a few years ago and the modulations have changed and service is a lot better.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266132)

Wrong.

AT&T Wireless had a TDMA and GSM network before Cingular. AT&T went from AMPS to TDMA to GSM. You might be thinking of US Cellular and Cricket when customer regions were swapped due to divestments. I was there.

The ideal outcome is that Sprint dumps it's CDMA network post-haste and adopts the GSM-LTE standards. Reason? iPhone. T-Mobile gets the iPhone next. The entire reason Sprint is in such a hurting position right now is because they have no plan, and are seeking dead-end solutions like Clearwire.

The DOJ, should they bring down the ban-hammer, should tell the American cellular providers to adopt a common network (LTE next generation), all phones are to be carrier unlocked and usable on any network. If they want competition, they need to break down the anti-competitive barriers first. Incompatible frequencies, technologies and subsidies are what keeps the mobile phone carriers customers from churn.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (4, Interesting)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266152)

The one thing Sprint could possibly bring to the table in a merger with T-Mobile if they didn't completely botch it is (theoretical) compatibility with international UMTS frequencies.

International UMTS uses 1900MHz for uplink, and 2100MHz for downlink (give or take a few MHz)

T-Mobile bought 1700 & 2100Mhz licenses during the AWS auction. They have very little 1900MHz spectrum, and it's all used by GSM voice and 2/2.5G data.

With a little creativity, Sprint could start repurposing 1900MHz spectrum currently used for EVDO to UMTS uplinks, and start shipping phones like the ones used in Canada that use CDMA for voice, but UMTS for 3G data. There wouldn't be any compatibility problem with pre-existing T-Mobile UMTS phones, because AFAIK, every UMTS phone ever sold by T-Mobile can do 1900/2100 UMTS in addition to 1700/2100 UMTS. There might be some temporary bandwidth crunches for EVDO, but if they got their act together quickly and shifted all new Android phones to 1900/2100 UMTS (falling back to 1900MHz EVDO only where 1900/2100 UMTS didn't exist), and simultaneously improved their 4G network options, the problem would largely solve itself within a year or two as heavy data users dumped their old phones and bought new ones within a year or two anyway.

The problem is, Sprint completely fucked up the merger with Nextel, which kind of casts doubt on their ability to merge a 1900MHz CDMA2000 network with a 1900MHz legacy GSM network, a 1700/2100MHz UMTS network, and a 2.6GHz WiMax (soon to be LTE) network. If they could manage to avoid completely screwing up T-Mobile's existing network in the process, it would put SprinT-mobile in a unique position among American carriers -- they'd be the one carrier capable of providing UMTS on international frequencies within the United States. For that reason, I'd prefer they both remain separate. But if anyone has to merge, Sprint and T-Mobile would probably be the least of all evils. Especially if Google ended up buying both of them to keep Sprint from physically screwing up T-mobile's network along the way.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265842)

Sprint does offer unlimited data on their wimax ("4G"). I'm using it right now. It's pretty decent so long as you're not moving. Using it on the train is a bit painful, especially with the spotty coverage on the VA side of DC metro.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266072)

VZW and AT&T are trying to dump their unlimited customers to sprint. if sprint does end up taking a lot of them on we will have to see how long they can take unlimited data.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266056)

I'm not sure where you are getting your info. I migrated from AT&T because they are a $hit carrier with terrible coverage and even worse customer service. They hooked in suckers with the iPhone and threw everything else worthwhile out the window. If you weren't willing to swallow the warm jobsy load AT&T was offering on the shiny side of the hardware equation you were basically f*cked for a good phone and even more on data and service.

T-mobile has everything hardware wise but the iPhone plus they have far superior pricing, service, and coverage. If you're wanting something shiny and crappy, you can go to VZW to get your iPhone and still avoid AT&T.

AT&T has nothing on it's competition besides and economic advantage which is steadily shrinking. I personally know 10 people that jumped their ship as soon as VZW started offering an iPhone and that is all about AT&T being a crap carrier and generally a bunch of assholes.

I'm not going to contest that WiMax is garbage, there is no doubt about that, but everyone I know on Sprint is way more satisfied than anyone on AT&T.

Re:Sprint and T-Mo should merge (1)

thelovebus (264467) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266084)

I'd argue that prior to the last few years where smart phones have become incredibly popular, Sprint tended to offer some of the best/most advanced phones available (other carriers did as well), so your argument that they offered "the worst phones" seems completely wrong to me.

I for one - (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265562)

Do not welcome our AT&T overlord masters.

I like T-Mobile!

I had AT&T and paid dearly to escape their evil clutches. I did not want to go back. Yeah for the DOJ! I hope they win.

First yay! (1)

kingduct (144865) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265584)

Yay!

Now lets hope they don't negotiate a deal (or worse yet, that the Department of Justice doesn't flat out lose the case).

Yet more Slashdot hypocrisy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265588)

Small government for "Libertarian" Slashdotters, big, intrusive government for those we don't like.

Re:Yet more Slashdot hypocrisy (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265636)

Not all slashdotters believe the same thing. For instance I think libertarians are either woefully naive, liars, or morons. I applaud the government taking action to ensure the cellular service market does not become a duopoly.

Well I think you're a fucking asshole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265696)

But ad hominem attacks aren't really relevant to the fact that Slashdotters claim to be for government out of their lives, but AT&T stockholders can be damned.

So fuck you and your hypocrisy, K? When the government comes for you, I'll remember your statist position.

Re:Well I think you're a fucking asshole (1, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265776)

I never made such a claim. Again you act as though as all slashdot posts come from one person.

The government is not coming for me, as far as I can tell, and if it did I would defend myself in court. Government is needed and all functional societies have one.

Re:Yet more Slashdot hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265732)

"Small government for "Libertarian" Slashdotters, big, intrusive government for those we don't like."

You need to study up on two things, mister small-brained conservative.

1) the concept of a false dichotomy.
2) the concept of antitrust law.

You are apparently unwilling or unable to understand there are some functions which can only be accomplished by the government. Antitrust law is a very good example. Without antitrust law, the consumer can and will be abused. To prevent this or at least mitigate it, government intervention is required.

Odd (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265604)

This doesn't explicitly help minorities. Isn't the DoJ straying from its mission?

Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265608)

Mergers are bad for everyone, except for one of the two CEOs involved. Employees lose out as their jobs become redundant. Customers lose out from lack of options and the inevitable price increases following consolidation. Stockholders lose out (in the long run) as there's one less successful business to invest in.

I played cat-and-mouse trying to get away from AT&T for a number of years: I was an Ameritech Wireless customer until they got bought out, at which point I switched to Cingular... jerks.

Given the incredible history of consolidation in the American telecom industry over the past decade [techautos.com] anything that slows the return of Ma Bell's monopoly is a good thing, even if the overall picture is still dire.

Ma Bell Strikes Back! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265610)

Ma Bell was broken up by the DOJ because it was a serious problem in the marketplace. These telecom corps are essentially trying (deliberately or not) to reassemble back into a new incarnation of it. AT&T has already reclaimed 4 of it's DOJ separated pieces and a good section of the internet service. Now they want mobile too?

Um... If I was the DOJ and knew my history of the department big warning bells would be ringing in my mind. I'm not surprised they've opposed this. Personally, I think the current telecom leaders are already pushing the limit given how much control they have over a lot of television, communications, and mobile services.

Re:Ma Bell Strikes Back! (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265798)

Admittedly things have changed since then, primarily with local cable companies now offering voice communication as well. That said, I wish more DOJ employees would realize that duopolies and triopolies are barely better than monopolies when it comes to consumer choice.

The Feds got it right (5, Informative)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265726)

Every once in a while, the Feds get it right. From the article,

"Moreover, the department said that AT&T could obtain substantially the same network enhancements that it claims will come from the transaction if it simply invested in its own network without eliminating a close competitor."

We have been saying this here forever. AT&T et al need to invest in their own infrastructure. It is about time that the Federal government is on board with that.

As a T-Mobile customer (3)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265754)

As a T-Mobile customer since 1999 (when they were Voice Stream) I couldn't be happier. I want no part of AT&T.

AT&T Blows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265756)

I've been with T-Mobile 8 years. When this merger goes through they will lose at least one customer. I would rather have NO phone than use AT&T - one in the same really.

No optimistic. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265772)

I am pleasantly surprised to hear this news.

I can't help but wonder what lead to this; if this was a matter of AT&T not making contributions to the right politicians, not being as connected as a company like GE, or not being in an industry like finance or healthcare. I'd say Bank of America gets away with far worse and not only are they not investigated but they're rewarded with bailouts. Of course, this all could be for show and the merger will end up going through anyway.

I think it reflects a sad state of affairs in this country that we would even be surprised by this turn of events and that I'm inclined to assume the worst.

Re:No optimistic. (1)

MrFurious5150 (1189479) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265976)

Of course, this all could be for show and the merger will end up going through anyway.

This. 2012 is an election year, ya know.

Re:No optimistic. (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265998)

You're operating under the assumption that the government cannot possibly, every, under any circumstance whatsoever perform the slightest task. Ever. We've been well conditioned either by media sensationalism or by partisan pundits to just accept that this is the case. Whatever shreds of appearance of competence are left after those two are done are usually destroyed by the instances where the government actually does fuck things up, rather than just does something that pisses off the (left / right / center / fundies / neocons / bleeding hearts.) Every so often, moreso that we like to admit, the Federal government actually can accomplish their day to day duties. Usually.

One of the things that has gotten lost in this merger is that......it's AT&T doing the acquiring. You know? The people that got broken up in an anti-trust suit 40+ years ago? Allowing them to complete major acquisitions without serious scrutiny (from the people that did the breaking up in the first place) is a bit like letting Michael Vick adopt a dog from the pound. Even if the intentions and motives are pure, it's gonna get a longer look because of....ya know....what happened in the past.

Early (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265818)

Isn't this a few days early to be appearing on /.?

Good job! Next thing ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265902)

... go after the oil producer/refiner/distributor vertical monopolies.

Re:Good job! Next thing ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266006)

We're not done with cellular companies. Force them to sell bandwidth at the same price as any other internet carrier.
Unlimited data throughput, at whichever speed you pay for.

That 1.5Mb/S - just became 15.00 for as much as you can shovel at that data rate. Voice of course being carried over the same link.

No need for expensive data plans, voice plans, texting - it's all the same - data - being piped.

AT&T showed their hand too early (2)

xjerky (128399) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266014)

Y'know for the past year or so I've been wondering how AT&T was ballsy enough to drop unlimited data and tiered text messaging for users, not to mention their tethering plan scam, when they should have been keeping up appearances to the DOJ that they actually care about their customers. Looks like that was a bad idea!

Re:AT&T showed their hand too early (1)

arnott (789715) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266190)

You know what, you're right!

Yes, but will T-Mobile survive? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266034)

Just because the merger is not approved does not mean that T-Mobile will continue as a viable alternative. My understanding was that the reason that Deutsche Telekom was selling T-Mobile was because they were not making enough return on investment.
The first article says that AT&T will give T-Mobile $3 billion if the deal does not go through, but that is not the case. AT&T will give Deutsche Telekom $3 billion if the deal does not go through. There is no reason to suppose that Deutsche Telekom will pass that money on to T-Mobile.
Are we any better off if T-Mobile goes bankrupt? I do not know if that will happen if this deal does not go through, but there is reason to suspect that it might.

This is actually good news for T-Mobile (1)

generalhavok (1432165) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266040)

If this deal is blocked, it would not be bad news for T-Mobile as some here have claimed. According to Bloomberg, [bloomberg.com]

"Should regulators reject the deal, which would create the biggest U.S. wireless carrier, AT&T would have to pay Deutsche Telekom $3 billion in cash. It would also provide T-Mobile USA with wireless spectrum in some regions and reduced charges for calls into AT&T’s network, for a total package valued at as much as $7 billion, Deutsche Telekom said this month."

So T-Mobile would get $3 billion in cash, more spectrum, and reduced fees for calls going through AT&T's network. This would seem to be good news for T-Mobile, as all of these things would make them more competitive.

Jobs are not the point (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266100)

Jobs shouldn't be the point of this in any way. If you think the government should force companies to hire more people you've fallen for the broken window fallacy. It's not about efficiency it's about competition. This action is supposed to improve service and lower prices by allowing other companies to compete. And guess what? If another company can compete by farming out 50% of its support to India and still sell phone services that's the way it's supposed to go.
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