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Sprint Files Suit Against AT&T T-Mobile Merger

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the shoot-it-till-it's-dead dept.

AT&T 132

zacharye writes with a news post in BGR. From the article: "Sprint ... announced that it has filed a lawsuit with a federal court in the U.S. District of Columbia in an effort to block AT&T's planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom. The suit is related to the Department of Justice's lawsuit, which was filed on August 31st. 'Sprint opposes AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile,' Sprint's vice president of litigation Suzan Haller said. 'With today's legal action, we are continuing that advocacy on behalf of consumers and competition, and expect to contribute our expertise and resources in proving that the proposed transaction is illegal.'"

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132 comments

Oh yeah? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318458)

As a concerned citizen and avid consumer, I will file a suit against Sprint due to them attempting to block the AT&T & T-Mobile Merger.

Sent from my Vodafone iPad.

Re:Oh yeah? (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318782)

As a T-Mobile customer I would just like to say "Go fuck yourself."

Re:Oh yeah? (5, Insightful)

cc_pirate (82470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319544)

Amen. If I wanted to switch from T-mobile to AT&T, I'd do it myself.

You can't reduce the # of nationwide GSM carriers in this country from 2 to 1 and try to pretend that somehow 'improves competition'.

Re:Oh yeah? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320446)

As an AT&T customer, I echo your sentiments. The last thing I want is less competition that would allow AT&T to increase their already bloated rates. (Though to be fair, maybe T-Mobile's pricing is a bit on the low side if they're unprofitable enough that they want to sell so badly).

Re:Oh yeah? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320672)

T-Mobile is profitable, it's just that it's parent company would like an immediate payday. A 39 billion payday makes investors happier than owning the 4th largest carrier.

Yes they have lost a few customers, but they have replaced most of them with higher value smartphone customers, while others are moving to their prepaid service which is rather attractive.

Re:Oh yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318944)

Great idea, and it should be made that if they lose they become part of AT&T. There is not enough radio spectrum for competition.

Funny coming from Sprint or should I say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318468)

... Sprint / Nextel

Re:Funny coming from Sprint or should I say... (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318644)

... Sprint / Nextel

2 small companies merging, not a huge deal.

But how many times do we have to keep splitting AT&T / Ma Bell up?

Re:Funny coming from Sprint or should I say... (1)

blargster (239820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319730)

It is split up now - between Verizon and AT&T. They both are comprised of Baby Bells.

ATT (1)

GraysonGillInteriors (2455132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318476)

Didn't the US courts block the merger anyways?

Re:ATT (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318560)

No, the Justice Department has blocked the merger. AT&T could take that to court. Sprint is trying to get a court ruling first. By going to court before AT&T challenges the Justice Department in court, Sprint is attempting to get the case judged from a perspective that they believe is least likely to favor the merger. Sprint would prefer to see T-Mobile go out of business to seeing it gobbled up by AT&T (or Verizon).

Re:ATT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318650)

Fat chance it will do any good. For all intents and purposes, the merger is a fait accompli as where the government is concerned.

Re:ATT (3, Informative)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318762)

The Justice Department has not blocked the merger. They filed suit with the goal of blocking the merger. They can still lose, and the merger could still go through.

Re:ATT (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318928)

Sure, profits and revenue are down, but T-Mobile USA still made $1.3B on $20B in revenue last year. They are in no danger of going out of business for a few years.

Re:ATT (2)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319034)

The parent company, Deutsche Telekom, wants to sell them off. that seems like a significant danger of going out of business in a few years. Maybe sooner.

This detail is commonly overlooked.

Re:ATT (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319200)

So, in your world, the *only* reason a company is ever sold is because it is in danger of going out of business soon?

Re:ATT (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320078)

Well, where do I start?

First, I wrote "that seems like a significant danger ..." One of several significant dangers of going out of business would be, as I was trying to point out, that "The parent company, Deutsche Telekom, wants to sell them off". May we agree that when your parent company doesn't want to operate you any more, that is a significant danger to your continued operation?

Secondly, and more importantly, I was responding to your statement:

"Sure, profits and revenue are down, but T-Mobile USA still made $1.3B on $20B in revenue last year. They are in no danger of going out of business for a few years."

Indeed, they seem fairly profitable based on multiples of revenue. But DT's intention to divest themselves of TMO would seem to trump that.

You disagree? I'm interested in what you see as a future for TMO if DT is genuinely going to let them go. Is there even a HINT of another buyer out there? Is it apparent that DT will continue to operate TMO as an aggressive competitor if this deal falls through?

Please, give me some other assessment supported by facts or logic. I'm aware of none, and you would change my viewpoint if you have one. But when you do, please address the facts - DT has made it clear they no longer wish to operate in the U.S. AT&T is not only the buyer they have chosen, but they have mentioned no other potential buyer, nor has one come forward.

I'm not making these statements in support of the merger, just making them as what I see are facts that are important in understanding TMO's future.

Re:ATT (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320570)

Deutsche Telekom wants to sell off T-Mobile. For all practical purposes, AT&T is the only potential buyer. DT has said that they are not going to invest any more money into the T-Mobile network. T-Mobile's network needs significant updating for them to remain competitive. If DT is unable to sell T-Mobile and is unwilling to invest any more money in their network, T-Mobile will be on a downward spiral.

Re:ATT (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319610)

A company like T-mobile doesn't "go out of business." It goes bankrupt, and either reorganizes itself or is sold to whoever will take it on.

While Sprint would prefer if competitors just dried up and blew away, it will accept that they don't merge together to become unbeatable competitors.

Re:ATT (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320476)

It is true that T-Mobile will not just "go out of business". However, if the deal with AT&T does not go through because of Federal Anti-Trust concerns, it is unlikely that T-Mobile will be sold off as a single unit, since, in the U.S., only AT&T uses compatible technology. Additionally, the parent company, Duetsche Telekom has expressed that they have no interest in investing any more money into T-Mobile. This suggests that if this deal does not go through T-Mobile will be sold off in pieces.

Re:ATT (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320754)

Selling it in pieces doesn't work. As you said, only AT&T would want the technology by itself. But the equipment is far less valuable than the long list of paying customers. And the customers would want to keep using the same equipment.

It's a unit that functions only as a unit.

Re:ATT (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318576)

No, they haven't. The courts won't have anything to say until the outcome of one of the current lawsuits aimed at blocking the merger.

Re:ATT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318602)

Didn't the US courts block the merger anyways?

I believe the DoJ has filed an opposition to the merger and the FCC is expected to, but no, the court has not blocked it yet.

Everybody, quick! (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318528)

DOG PILE!

Re:Everybody, quick! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318912)

Is this what you were looking for?

http://www.dogpile.com/info.dogpl.t2.2/search/web?fcoid=417&fcop=topnav&fpid=27&q=sprint+at%26t

excellent! (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318692)

Reward everybody involved by breaking them up into 2 companies each (at least)! Sprint, AT&T, and T-mobile. Hell, throw in verizon and anyone else I'm forgetting just for good measure...

Herfindahl and Hirschman would be proud.

Re:excellent! (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318704)

Better idea, mandate they sell each other transport at cost + X% profit.

Even better idea, don't let the same company own the network and provide the service.

Re:excellent! (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318738)

...and if they complain, offer to:

1.) print off their coverage map
2.) see if it blends
3.) force them to separate into one company per blended piece of coverage map
4.) everything else that guy just said

I use T-Mobile (5, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318710)

The reasons I use T-Mobile:

They have reasonable prepaid plans. I can get unlimited text, voice, and data (throttled, but meh) at 50$ a mo. I can get unthrottled data at 70.

The android phones they offer can make use of my home wifi to make and recieve calls, even if the cellular coverage is spotty. I live in the boonies, and this is a major perk. It allows me to keep a big city number where the phone company would charge me long distance otherwise.

They actually give a shit about their customers, or at least appear to more than ATT does.

They are the only other US carrier that is GSM besides the bloated whore that is ATT. The last thing I want to see is ATT shove another cellular carrier up its chancre riddled snatch.

That said, ATT does NOT need T-Mo's spectrum. What they need to do is deploy the spectrum they have more sensibly. Rather than trying to shove 10 thousand subscribers on a single tower, then bitching when they all use the maximum allowed bandwidth-- they need to deploy 10 reduced power output towers that each service 1000 subscribers. They can go ahead and deploy the high power towers in rural areas to maintain their "We have the best coverage!" nonsense (because it is a lie, but meh), but for urban areas such persistent signal is deleterious due to reflections off buildings causing multipath issues, in addition to the obvious one of trying to satisfy the data demands placed on such a network.

So, rather than buying T-Mo, patching the problem in a manner that would require most ATT customers to buy new phones (that have the T-Mo/UK frequency antennas), and then using the GSM monopoly to play king of the mountain-- they need to use the money they would have spent on buying T-Mo, decommission the high power transponders on the urban area towers they have, replace them with lower power ones, and then build more total towers in the poorly serviced urban areas.

Oh, but that is that whole "Invest in infrastructure" thing that they dont want to do.

Fuck ATT. Fuck them with an iron spike on a jackhammer.

Re:I use T-Mobile (1)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318818)

As a fellow T-Mobile customer I wholeheartedly agree.

Re:I use T-Mobile (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318876)

As someone looking to leave Verizon I hope this deal falls through. If I had only AT&T and Verizon I would just stick with Verizon.

Re:I use T-Mobile (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320272)

Man this is EXACTLY what I'm doing right now. My contract is up in like March and I hope this is all sorted out because even Verizon is better than fucking AT&T. *shudder*

Re:I use T-Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320054)

As do I. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Re:I use T-Mobile (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318834)

The reasons I use T-Mobile:

  • They have reasonable prepaid plans. I can get unlimited text, voice, and data (throttled, but meh) at 50$ a mo. I can get unthrottled data at 70.
  • The android phones they offer can make use of my home wifi to make and recieve calls, even if the cellular coverage is spotty. I live in the boonies, and this is a major perk. It allows me to keep a big city number where the phone company would charge me long distance otherwise.
  • They actually give a shit about their customers, or at least appear to more than ATT does.
  • They are the only other US carrier that is GSM besides the bloated whore that is ATT. The last thing I want to see is ATT shove another cellular carrier up its chancre riddled snatch.

I tried switching to T-Mobile in 1-2 years ago from AT&T for a lot of the reasons you give above.

But the coverage in my area was very poor, while AT&T's is quite good and Verizon's is great. So I stayed with AT&T.

If the coverage wouldn't be so poor by me, such as driving between the house and work, it would be a no-brainer. But dropped calls and dead zones made me want to pull my hair out.

Then again I'm sure they're stellar in other areas, especially closer to the big cities.

Re:I use T-Mobile (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319674)

You are exactly right. I started with T-Mobile when I was in grad school in Texas and it was at least on par with the other providers. Now that I live in Northern Nevada I notice a large number of blank spots where I don't get reception or where my data flips continually from "4G" to Edge. That being said, I will stick with them until they are finally swallowed for two reasons, first they have the best customer service of any of the big four, and second, they give me a price break for owning my own phone. I fear the days of both of those benefits are numbered...

Re:I use T-Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319862)

First, you need to find someone with your phone, and see how the coverage is in the area's that you drive/live. Second, I like T mobile because they are the most affordable in my coverage area.

I am not the normal customer I realize. I don't want, nor do I text. I don't want a camera in my phone. There may be TWO times a year, that I would like internet access via the phone, to look something up, so I really don't want to pay for a non used feature. I want it to be a phone. The reason I bought one, no more pay phones. There are a few times that I need those, normally when on an errand for work (item needed could be x or x.1, etc). That drove me to it. I paid for the phone, and bought a 1000 minute card for $100, that lasted me a year and left me with around 400 minutes left at the end of the year. These are the types of phones that I've read, AT&T would like to go away, and drive people to the more expensive "smart" phones.
If they stop them, then I will have to find out who is supplying the state government, with the welfare phones they hand out and see if I can buy one of them instead. However, my understanding of my local ones (need to verify with some LEO's I know) are they are considered a smarter (and more expensive at taxpayer expense) phone then what I need/use.

Payphones eliminated, caused me to spend $100 a year on a cell phone, and drop my home phone, which saves me $212 a year.

Re:I use T-Mobile (2)

ZenDragon (1205104) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319370)

They have reasonable prepaid plans. I can get unlimited text, voice, and data (throttled, but meh) at 50$ a mo. I can get unthrottled data at 70

What are you talking about? Their cheapest unlimited plan is 59 with no data at all, their "premium" plan is 89, and "Ultra" plan with 10gb/mo is $119 dollars. I used to pay $79 a month for unlimited everything without throttling, now somehow I pay the $89 and only get 500 minutes! Defaintely NOT reasonable. The only reason I stay with t-mo honestly is because they only throttle instead of charging for data overages which I will occasionally do because I use my phone for tethering for work.

Re:I use T-Mobile (2)

todrules (882424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319618)

You're wrong. If you get an Unlimited Value plan, where you pay for your phone, you only pay $49.99 per month, and that includes unlimited talk and text.

Re:I use T-Mobile (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320678)

THIS. I'm on this plan now with a Nexus One, and my wife is on the same plan with a G2 I bought outright.

Re:I use T-Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319670)

What are you talking about? I'm looking at tmo's website right now.

Their cheapest unlimited voice/txt/data* (2gb transfer unthrottled) for individuals is $59. On family plans, its $49/line.
If you want to step down to 500 minutes voice/unlimited txt/2gb unthrottled data for individuals, its $49.
Their monthly no-contract.. $50 for unlimited voice/txt although data gets throttled after 100mb of transfer. $70 if you'd rather 5GB unthrottled transfer.

Re:I use T-Mobile (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319650)

T-mobile is better than Sprint (ultra-shitty coverage) or AT&T (nothing at all worth having), but not much different from Verizon.

They do have the hottest spokesmodel, though.

Wow... (4, Interesting)

Haelyn (321711) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318718)

VP of litigation?

just... wow...

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318822)

Why not? Much like Apple, it's the only area that Sprint's still competitive in.

Because it certainly isn't coverage (the reason I left), and it definitely isn't price or service or available phones. Sprint's current "killer phone" is a 3D Android phone. Maybe instead of suing successful companies, they should join a support group with Nintendo for "failed 3D devices."

Re:Wow... (1)

SixGunMojo (177687) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319052)

Sprint's current "killer phone" is a 3D Android phone

Nope, Spint's killer phone is a rooted Samsung Epic with custom rom and kernel plus unlimited data.

Re:Wow... (1)

SeximusMaximus (1207526) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319168)

Sprint still has unlimited data, which IMHO is a killer distinction

Re:Wow... (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319732)

Which is why my EVO is rooted with a free tethering app, for the times when I don't feel like paying my cable bill and still want to watch netflix on my laptop. 30 bucks extra a month for "Sprint tethering"? F**k that.

Had to root my phone to install the tethering app-- took about as long as it would take to drink two glasses of bourbon. Easy peasy.

Re:Wow... (4, Informative)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319088)

My relatively small company of about 300 employees has a dedicated "legal counsel" who ranks as a VP - and she's well worth whatever amount we pay her. Part of her job description includes handling an litigation that we may be involved in.

Not sure why it would surprise you at all that a company as large as sprint would also have someone dedicated to legal issues, or even specifically to litigation.

On Legal Staff (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319762)

most likely if your company is big enough that having a meeting with the whole staff would need a PA system in the room you should have at least one lawyer on staff. Now most of the time that lawyer should be working on defining "unacceptable liability" and not working on suing different people.

A company the size of SPRINT should have a whole department of lawyers (and clerks and paralegal ect) so the head of that department would be a VP just on principle alone (and so that the VP of litigation can tell the VP of marketing that the campaign they are starting up could get The Company sued in %region or Country%).

Re:Wow... (1)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319214)

I'm sure she handles it both ways.

Sheesh, minds out of the gutter -- I mean litigation. Both the suing of Sprint and Sprint suing someone else.

Vice president of LITIGATION? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318850)

Something about the fact that "VP of Litigation" is an actual job title makes my head feel funny.

The Death Star (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37318852)

Any day the Death Star (ATT) is thwarted is a good day for everyone.

I don't see how it is illegal. (-1, Flamebait)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318904)

I don't get it. There doesn't seem to be anything anticompetitive going on here. Is it now illegal for a company to simply become too big?

If this is about wireless spectrum, maybe a better approach would be suing to get the rules on how it is allocated changed.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319016)

You should read up on capitalism.

In each product area there are enough privately owned firms to ensure that no single firm can set prices or otherwise subvert impersonal market controls; as a result prices reflect the pressures of market competition

So yes becoming too big is a problem since that leads to a communist system aka the opposite of capitalist, and is why we have laws against it unless you've been legally granted an exception like with the power companies and other utilities. Why do you think we broke up old MaBell in the first place, and implemented a whole slew of anti-trust laws over the last 100 years?

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319420)

that leads to a communist system

So if AT&T buys T-Mobile their workers take over the company and make the decisions in a democratic council?

Stop saying bullshit, a huge monopolist company is just inefficient capitalism, it has nothing to do with communism.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319952)

Indeed, it would only be "communism" if every worker owned a piece of this massive company. Then it would be both monopolistic and communist! Hooray!

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319434)

So yes becoming too big is a problem since that leads to a communist system aka the opposite of capitalist,

Communism has a very distinct meaning and it has absolutely nothing to do with a company becoming too big.

A monopolistic company is basically the most extreme result of pure capitalism - it's just that over time we've discovered that pure capitalism kinda sucks - hence why we have laws against monopolies and other such things that capitalism tends to promote. On both extremes of the scale, both capitalism and communism are terrible economic models - you have to strike a balance (the optimal balance leaning more towards capitalism, but not all the way over).

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319442)

I know what I think about why MaBell was broken up.. and I'm pretty sure you don't. Because you're implying that MaBell was creating a communist system simply by being too large.

A clue.. communism doesn't mean what you seem to think it means.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (5, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319058)

Is it now illegal for a company to simply become too big?

Yes, as long as you understand that by "now" you mean since 1890 [wikipedia.org], and specifically this kind of merger since 1914 [wikipedia.org]. Both those laws were created because of large firms engaged in various forms of price gouging and other efforts to artificially inflate prices on commonly used goods such as gasoline and steel.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319406)

That says nothing about the absolute size of a company, it is about preventing monopolies in order to prevent anti-competitive behavior. ATT isn't buying T-Mobile in order to get a corner on the market. They are buying them to expand their network so they can have a hope of competing with Verizon.

Verizon is still going to be a big problem for ATT after the merger. If there were no Verizon, you might have a point, but as it is, I don't see how it could allow ATT to act in an anticompetitive way.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (2)

Merk42 (1906718) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319860)

ATT isn't buying T-Mobile in order to get a corner on the market. They are buying them to expand their network so they can have a hope of competing with Verizon.

You believed that line too? Too bad it's not true [businessinsider.com]

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (2)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319962)

ATT isn't buying T-Mobile in order to get a corner on the market. They are buying them to expand their network so they can have a hope of competing with Verizon.

Naivete and ignorance in one post. It has already been made public that expanding AT&T's network would cost about 1/4 (IIRC) of the cost of buying T-Mobile. This merger is all about taking out the competition, not improving AT&T's service to make it competitive.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320116)

Size is not as important as control. By merging with T-Mobile, AT&T has control of all the GSM network in the USA. It would be the same as if Verizon were to merge with Sprint which would control most of the CDMA network.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

imric (6240) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320332)

HAHAHAHA!

Tell that to wikileaks!

This was NEVER about expanding spectrum, it WAS about reducing competition.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319068)

Is it now illegal for a company to simply become too big?

Yes, it has been for quite some time now.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319284)

Spectrum was auctioned off to the carriers over several years/decades. Allocation at that level was a function of capital, more or less.

How the carriers used tha spectrum is a business decision. AT&T is regularly excoriated for their poor performance in hi-density areas, but this is as much system design as any complaints of spectrum. Here lies an interesting problem.

If you think AT&T can just build out a bunch of new towers to satisfy metro demand, you haven't tried renting out tower space. Many cities are not ready to let the carriers sprout up towers everywhere. And in some cities, like NYC, towers cannot easily voercome the challenging topology of skyscrapers.

Letting AT&T become larger doesn't by itself solve this. When they get bigger, and if they choose to not build more capacity, then nothing is fixed. If they use TMO spectrum to overlay another network, well, let's see those penta-band phones come from Apple, and soon, or we are not fixing anything. If AT&T uses TMO tower locations, well, that avoids leasing new sites. Unless the cities decide the change of ownership causes a new application for the licenses. In any case, expecting AT&T to use TMO assets to improve performance presupposes that AT&T actually wants to improve performance. Is this so patently obvious to everyone that we need not consider their business decisions that may or may not make that desireable?

If our government decides to impose some rules for how spectrum is deployed and managed, why the hell don't we just nationalize these carriers? Oh, right, this is the United States. At least for now we don't actually take over these sorts of businesses.

Andf we are right back to the issue of how big can AT&T become without making the markert uncompetitive, and causing consumers excess cost and diminished quality of service?

The better solution is to encourage competition. And I suspect the FCC will try to do this by making AT&T give up relatively large chunks of spectrum to new competitors. Which won't work as well as they think it will, since a national carrier is needed to compete well, and that means making AT&T give up a national-sized chunk. Which denies AT&T any benefits from a merger. Which is stupid.

And we also need to consider that DT seems to have given up oon TMO. Who else will buy them? Sprint? No, Sprint can't seem to say either way, which means no.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319342)

If AT&T succeeds in buying T-mobile, there will be only 1 nationwide GSM cellphone provider left in the USA and that provider will be AT&T. Effectively if you want a GSM cellphone in the USA, you will have to buy it from AT&T.

That will be a negative for the consumer and the market, since AT&T WILL use this power to drive up prices.

There is no possible way to spin this proposed merger as any gain for the consumer whatsoever.

The merger would result in a violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act, since "The law directs itself not against conduct which is competitive, even severely so, but against conduct which unfairly tends to destroy competition itself." This merger would destroy competition itself in the GSM cellular space.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

Widowwolf (779548) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320028)

Wrong: Tracphone with 17 million subscribers is GSM and its Nationwide- It is currently the 5th largest cell provider in this country.. The eight largest (in order of subscribers) are Verizon (102 million) AT&T (97 million) Sprint (51 million) T-Mobile USA (34 million) TracFone Wireless (17 million) MetroPCS (9 million) U.S. Cellular (6 million) Cricket Communications (6 million) Would people feel the same way if Verizon was trying to buy MetroPCS..i think not..Why ATT has the bad name since the break up, and Tmobile is a more known name...Doesn't matter if they are the only GSM provider that does not violate the Sherman Trust act because you are still not a monopoly in the cellphone market...only in certain types.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320174)

Hey jackass, Tracphone does not have it's own network! They piggy back off of T-Mobile, AT&T and other carriers.

Fucking moron.

Re:I don't see how it is illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320242)

Who says the GSM network is a market. What does it matter if the network is GSM or CDMA where anti-trust is concerned. The market is Nationwide Cellular phone service, not GSM cellular phone service.

Sirius and XM were allowed to merge and they were the only two satellite radio companies. The market isn't determined by which technology is used, it's determined by which customers are affected. All of those customers would still have the option to switch companies, and in the few rural spots where the choice doesn't exist, the feds can regulate those.... like they already do.

Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319440)

So this is the continuation of that topic [slashdot.org], that got me my "Terrible" [slashdot.org] moderation, and it's all really part the same discussion that even brought USPS to its knees [slashdot.org].

I got many comments saying something like this: with fewer companies, others, like Sprint, will have too much competition in pricing and they'll have to shut down.

Then somebody in that thread noted: but we want low prices. And then the same person commented: we want Sprint to stay in business. And we want government to prevent this merger.

And now this:

With today's legal action, we are continuing that advocacy on behalf of consumers and competition, and expect to contribute our expertise and resources in proving that the proposed transaction is illegal.

Well let me propose to you that in fact this merger is an act of free market at work, if this merger goes through, then Sprint will have a formidable competitor, covering very large area, and this competitor will be able to bring prices down and hold off against inflation longer.

Will this hurt Sprint? It will force Sprint to compete, so Sprint just may bring down their prices. That same person, that commented in the old thread said: the SMSs are too expensive, but we must protect Sprint against competition.

Don't you see a problem with preventing powerful competition from arising? What is the incentive for Sprint to bring prices down? How about bringing prices down on things that don't actually cost anymore money, like the SMSs being sent around?

If AT&T and T-Mobile are not allowed to merge by government (so this is destruction of free market, which means it's prevention of individuals from making individual choices in the long run), then AT&T will have to pay around 7 billion in penalties. It's interesting to note, that there is a union at AT&T, that is on the side of the merger, because they see T-Mobile's workers as potential union members. Not that I am personally pro-union or anything, don't get me wrong, but the current administration in the White House supposedly is, aren't they?

So back to the real question:

WHO GETS HURT?

If Sprint gets hurt because they see more competition, that is GOOD for the customers.

Do customers get hurt? How do customers get hurt? Nobody forces customers to get out of Sprint and if what AT&T and T-Mobile merger creates is more expensive and worse quality, then it's just better for Sprint.

So Sprint believes that this action will hurt Sprint. No matter what they issue as statements there, don't believe a word of it, they are only thinking about themselves, which is fine, but this has nothing to do with the customers. Sprint sees a potential price/quality war. Customers WIN in a price/quality war.

I know that many of you will see this comment as some sort of a 'troll', but consider that I am posing legitimate questions and I am not on board of any of these companies, so to me the entire exercise is purely theoretical for this specific case. Of-course in reality all of this affects everybody in the world, because any such involvement of government into businesses destroys the free market, which by definition is made out of individual choices unrestricted by government power. Once the free market is destroyed, the power then takes over all businesses, creates monopolies, destroys choices and holds prices where it wants.

Without government involvement any market created monopoly only exists as long as it provides the best quality choices at lowest possible prices, once the quality is substandard and/or prices are too high, there is immediately space created for others to compete with the established business. This is not the case with government protected monopolies, which are always protected by regulations and free money.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319562)

Well let me propose to you that in fact this merger is an act of free market at work, if this merger goes through, then Sprint will have a formidable competitor, covering very large area, and this competitor will be able to bring prices down and hold off against inflation longer.

Get out of your ivory tower and get back in the real world.

There is NO WAY IN HELL that AT&T would lower their prices. The rest of your argument is invalidated by AT&T's greed. Expecting them to lower their prices and/or provide better service is like expecting a crackhead not to smoke crack when presented with more crack.

AT&T was broken up in the first place because your arguments do not apply when monopolies occur. If there is a monopoly the free market gets fucked.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319614)

But wait a moment. AT&T's monopoly was established by the government [mises.org], which killed a few thousand competitors in the process.

So we have government creating a monster and then 'fighting' it? (seems similar to everything else government does, from Iraq with Saddam, to Afghanistan with OBL, to Iran with the Shah).

Really, think about all the blow back that you get when gov't gets involved. But now I am going to ask you this question:

IF you believe that AT&T and T-Mobile will NOT bring prices down then answer this question: how does any of this hurt customers of Sprint and how does this hurt Sprint?

The ONLY way this could hurt Sprint if AT&T in fact did bring prices down and/or was able to hold off raising of prices longer given the levels of inflation that is created by Federal reserve money destruction.

Come on, at least be consistent.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319738)

IF you believe that AT&T and T-Mobile will NOT bring prices down then answer this question: how does any of this hurt customers of Sprint and how does this hurt Sprint?

I could give a shit less about Sprint, I'm a T-Mobile customer and I would like to remain a T-Mobile customer and my rates will increase and my service will dramatically decrease if AT&T is allowed to purchase T-Mobile.

As for the possibility that Sprint may lower prices if confronted with more competition, well if AT&T doesn't lower their prices, and of course AT&T will not lower their prices to current T-Mobile prices, exactly why would Sprint lower theirs?

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319826)

As a T-Mobile customers, you are going to get more coverage, so better service, because you will have wider infrastructure, that is AT&T infrastructure. This will work out to be the economy of scale to you, and besides, it's not clear that T-Mobile was going to stay in business for that much longer, I heard that, but that may be wrong, so I am not going to push that point.

However there is a reason why Sprint is coming out with the statements they are coming out with: they clearly believe that this merger will hurt them financially. Well, the only way for Sprint to be hurt financially is by AT&T/T-Mobile to provide better quality/price than Sprint does.

This will automatically force Sprint into lower profits, they will have to survive, they are not going just to lay down and die, so they'll have to take some of the prices down at least or maybe they'll do something about their infrastructure. In any case, whatever Sprint does, if it becomes more competitive, this is more pressure on AT&T to be more competitive.

If, on the other hand, Sprint is successful at preventing this merger there will not be an economy of scale applied to your carrier, AT&T will have to pay a large amount in penalties, this is money that they won't be able to use for more infrastructure projects and thus eventually this leads to less competition.

If there is any problem with my logic (there may be), at the very least there is the huge question of why Sprint is coming out with the lawsuit if they don't feel that they will have to work harder to retain customers, and this is directly and indirectly to your benefit if the merger goes through anyway.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320044)

If there is any problem with my logic (there may be)

The only problem with your logic is you are expecting the market to work in a logical manner.

If AT&T was a logical company they would not be scrimping on their infrastructure and would instead try to build more towers and improve their service, they ain't interested in that though.

As to the question as to why Sprint is suing, well monopolistic companies have a very large influence on their marketplace and are able to dictate the market.

This would not be nearly the issue it is though if all phones were unlocked and available to all carriers, if we could move between carriers without major hardware purchases, but that is an issue.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320350)

My T-Mobile coverage is already much better than the AT&T coverage in my area. Quite simply, you're a dumbass.

Maybe you got modded down because you're so full of crap and are living in the fantasy world of your own head.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320430)

Just because YOUR coverage with T-Mobile is already better than YOUR coverage with AT&T doesn't mean anything, does it? Maybe you live right at the T-Mobile tower and AT&T is not there, doesn't mean this is everybody's experience. To say that the coverage of the 2 combined companies will be somehow worse than coverage of one of them and at the same time call me a "dumb ass, who is full of crap and living in fantasy world in my own head" is sort of telling something, but not about me.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320406)

No, you won't get more coverage, unless you are forced to buy a new phone. AT&T's tech and t-mobiles are not compatible. Costs born by? You guessed it, the consumer. The motivation is not now, and never has been, anything but reducing competition.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320606)

AT&T's tech and t-mobiles are not compatible

Um, actually they are the only 2 US providers that are compatible.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320764)

3G service is not compatible. Voice and edge service is.

Hence how people can use an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (2)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320082)

WHO GETS HURT?

If Sprint gets hurt because they see more competition, that is GOOD for the customers.

Do customers get hurt? How do customers get hurt? Nobody forces customers to get out of Sprint and if what AT&T and T-Mobile merger creates is more expensive and worse quality, then it's just better for Sprint.

I get hurt. My monthly cellphone bill will go up 5 fold. Admittedly, I have a sweetheart deal. I bought my smart phone outright and went on my parents' plan as an extra line. And unlike AT&T, T-Mobile does not force smart phone users to pay for a data plan if they own the phone outright. So I'm currently playing 5 bucks per month to my parents for phone service. That would go up to $25 per month under AT&T. I have better things to do with the extra $240 annually.

It's probably true that not that many people bought a Nexus One intending to pay as little as possible by forgoing the data plan. However, I'll bet that many T-Mobile customers are in my parents' position. Years ago, when their old contract ran out they opted to continue to use their older phones rather than start a new contract and get new, subsidized phones. That maneuver saves them around 20 bucks a month. With AT&T, they will not have the option of lower cost using existing phones, and with no other GSM providers around, they can't jump ship to another carrier without getting into another high cost contract.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320214)

Are you sure that T-Mobile is going to survive at all if not bought out by somebody, anybody? You may have a wonderful deal, but if a company does too many deals and takes a loss on every deal, how is it going to stay in business?

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320618)

T-Mobile is not going out of business. They are not loosing money. Clearly, they seem to be OK with charging 5 bucks for an extra line on an existing plan. If they wanted to raise that price they could do it. The plan my parents and I fall under is not a contract and they can raise our fees any time they like. I just fail to see how any cell phone company can have the gall to force customers to buy data services based on what kind of phone they have, or why people seem to think that is OK.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320706)

Making $1.5B in profit on $20B/year in revenue is not what I'd define as a company starving.

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320714)

The fact T-Mobile made $1.3 billion profit on $20 billion revenue last year suggests it is not taking a loss on those deals and that it would survive just fine if not bought out

Re:Aaah, the topic that got me moded to "Terrible" (1)

frog_strat (852055) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320168)

I think you are making a good point. That capitalism (perhaps not unlike all the other systems) eventually destroys itself left to its own devices. We just end up with a few monopolies and no more free markets or competition.

the merger is dead (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319528)

sprint is rumored to be getting the iphone this year but no work on T-Mo. Sprint will probably steal the rest of the profitable customers, AT&T will walk away from the deal due to the lower valuation of the company and we will have 3 big carriers in the US once T-Mo files for Chapter 11 and gets sold off piece by piece.

It really wouldn't shock me at all if Apple had something to do with it as well by giving the iphone to sprint but not t-mo. 2 super carriers is bad for apple since they will have the power to dictate pricing terms. 2 big carriers and a smaller under dog is OK since they can undercut the other 2 if needed.

Re:the merger is dead (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319818)

once T-Mo files for Chapter 11 and gets sold off piece by piece.

I don't know, T-Mobile will get quite the shot in the arm what with that $6 billion that AT&T will give them when this fails.

Re:the merger is dead (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320020)

there was a story last week that if t-mo's value falls too much then there is no break up fee

Re:the merger is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319972)

Fuck apple, and fuck fanbois.

Doesn't anyone... (1)

blargster (239820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319838)

...think that Sprint's suit for "advocacy on behalf of consumers" carries just a wee bit less weight than that of the DOJ's suit?

Deutsche Telecom (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320322)

My understanding when this merger was first announced wasn't that T-Mobile was doing poorly, but rather that the company wasn't doing as well as Deutsche Telecom had hoped. The lack of the iPhone was likely one of the things that hurt them. But ultimately the impression I got was that Deutsche Telecom couldn't be bothered with T-Mobile.

I'm with AT&T. Not because I have any love for them, but because there's no better alternative. Verizon offers no better coverage in this area and their business practices are every bit as despicable as AT&T's. Actually, I've never had billing issues with AT&T, but friends with Verizon have had numerous problems. I've seriously considered T-Mobile, but their coverage, unfortunately is inferior to AT&T's. I've had first hand experiences of being side-by-side with T-Mobile users where I could use my phone and they got no reception with theirs. The fact that there are a lot of NIMBYs in this area ensures that newcomers are going to have a very hard time getting established. Otherwise, they're very attractive as they offer better prices and packages than almost anyone else.

But then, if the government shows little concern for a company like Bank of America, why are they going to really be concerned about what AT&T does? Has BoA lined the right pockets or is this all simply for show? Once the people have forgotten about this the merger will go ahead anyway.

I never had the impression that T-Mobile was in any danger of going out of business. I mean, if they're profitable they're profitable, even if that margin isn't huge. If this merger fails to go through and T-Mobile finally got the iPhone perhaps they'd have a chance of becoming a stronger competitor. If the people at Virgin Mobile see a market here in the States what's the problem with T-Mobile?

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