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AT&T/T-Mobile Merger 'Not In the Public Interest'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the better-luck-next-time dept.

AT&T 190

jfruhlinger writes "AT&T's plan to merge with T-Mobile just hit a pretty big snag. The FCC declared the merger would be anti-competitive and not in the public interest." According to the NY Times, the FCC seeks to hold a hearing before an administrative law judge in which the burden would be upon AT&T to prove the deal isn't anti-competitive.

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the new att same as the old what next for them (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142476)

you have to rent your home phone?

Re:the new att same as the old what next for them (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143606)

you have to rent your home phone?

And the major cell carriers have continued that business model by getting most people to rent their cell phones. It's not like my cell phone bill is reduced after my 2 year contract term is up and my phone subsidy is supposedly paid off.

Except on T-Mobile where on their value plans, you actually do save money when the phone is paid off.

Verizon and Alltel was OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142482)

Why was the Verizon/Alltel deal OK, but AT&T and T-mo not? I don't see the difference... Sprint is (and would be) a distant 3rd option. sheesh.

Re:Verizon and Alltel was OK (5, Insightful)

x1r8a3k (1170111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142554)

Alltel had about 800,000 customers.
T-Mobil has 33,000,000.
Not really on the same scale there.

Re:Verizon and Alltel was OK (2)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144092)

Alltel was a fairly small regional carrier. T-Mobile is the fourth largest carrier, and has full national coverage.

Frankly, if the merger were between Sprint and T-Mobile, it would be more likely to go through.

Re:Verizon and Alltel was OK (4, Informative)

Faux_Pseudo (141152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144148)

Alltel wasn't "regional". Rural would be more accurate. Can't really call something that was licensed in states from OR to CT "regional". While they only had 800,000 customers they also were the number one CDMA roaming partner for the carriers. I don't know for sure but I think they may have made more off their roaming agreements than their customer base. That was a major reason that VZW bought them.

Sprint buying T-Mobile would earn Sprint the title as dumbest company ever. Their networks aren't compatible. It would be Sprint Nextel all over again.

The SEC matters, not the FCC... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142490)

Unfortunately, the FCC can shout all they want, but they have no say in the merger at this point. It is the SEC who is going to rubber stamp the merger. After last year, the FCC pretty much can go after pirate radio stations, but essentially that is it in their enforcing abilities. Stopping a merger? Not their bailiwick.

Re:The SEC matters, not the FCC... (5, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142712)

The FCC's input in this is important, since its approval is required by law.

The odds of the merger happening have dropped dramatically, though I think they were less than even before this.

Re:The SEC matters, not the FCC... (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143322)

The merger would most certainly require FCC approval, and would not be able to be completed without it.

You're right that the FCC's input to the SEC is unimportant, because the FCC does not need to explain itself. It can simply say "no" and that would be that.

Re:The SEC matters, not the FCC... (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143804)

Depends how much they want to stop the merger. The FCC has ultimate control over the frequencies. If they let AT&T understand that if they go ahead with the merger they won't be getting US spectrum for the merged company, or even that T-mobile's spectrum will be going elsewhere....

Re:The SEC matters, not the FCC... (1, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143974)

Depends how much they want to stop the merger. The FCC has ultimate control over the frequencies.

This won't be true for much longer. When a Republican takes over the White House in 2013, one of the things they'll do is disband the FCC (along with the EPA, FAA, and FDA), so these companies will be free to do whatever they want with the airwaves.

Re:The SEC matters, not the FCC... (4, Interesting)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144104)

Have you seen the current Republican field? I wouldn't hold your breath, though the major cell carriers certainly should.

I agree (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142510)

T-Mobile has a banging-hot chick in their advertisements. AT&T does not have a banging-hot chick in their advertisements. Banging-hot chicks are clearly in the public interest.

Re:I agree (-1, Flamebait)

jgeeky (974074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142544)

Replace "banging-hot" with "disproportionately-skinny and negatively-affecting female self-image" and you and I are in exact agreement

Re:I agree (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142626)

Who cares if she negatively affects fat girls' self image? She's banging hot!

Re:I agree (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142630)

So you feel that "disproportionately-skinny and negatively-affecting female self-image chicks are clearly in the public interest"? Chauvinist bastard!

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142694)

Well i'm not going to spank it over normal looking fat chicks...

Not my thing.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143268)

disproportionately-skinny women are way hot!

Re:I agree (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143338)

So you feel that "disproportionately-skinny and negatively-affecting female self-image chicks are clearly in the public interest"? Chauvinist bastard!

Considering the average dress size in the US is 14, just about any healthy girl would be disproportionately-skinny.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143362)

Did you not notice his ID?

Re:I agree (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38144074)

disproportionately-skinny

The ads were originally aired in Europe with average-looking women. They just forgot to replace them with average-looking American women when they exported it.

Re:I agree (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142664)

Some people are just skinny and hating on them is no better than hating on fat people. A poor self-image isn't the fault of anyone who just happens to look different.

Re:I agree (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143048)

The fact that you have to do the replacement indicates you are not in agreement after all.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143152)

Please... you would still hit that.

Re:I agree (2)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143256)

If an image on the TV can negatively affect someone's self-image, there is something wrong with them.

Re:I agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143886)

Disproportionately skinny? WTF? She isn't fat at all, but she's a long, long way from disproportionately skinny. There are plenty of pictures of her in a bikini, she has no more ribs showing than I do (at 5'10" 165lbs.) Anyone calling her anorexic does not know what an anorexic looks like.

Negatively affecting female self image? Seeing someone thin, but of healthy weight somehow causes fat people to feel bad about themselves, and this is the fault of who? The thin person? The people who prefer to look at the thinner person? The advertisers for using someone that other people enjoy looking at in their ads? Or is it just the blathering of an idiot who feels bad about themselves and calls the model ridiculous names?

Re:I agree (0, Troll)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142636)

T-Mobile has a banging-hot chick in their advertisements.

That anorexic chick needs a few cheeseburgers before she hasn't any curves and reaches the level of "banging-hot"

Re:I agree (2, Insightful)

mgblst (80109) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143326)

oh sorry, you must be American. not used to seeing non-obese people i guess.

Re:I agree (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143826)

The previous T-Mobile spokesperson was Catherine Zeta-Jones from the UK, has very nice curves and isn't obese.

Re:I agree (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143990)

As an American, I miss the days when women weren't all obese. It hasn't always been like that over here.

Re:I agree (1, Funny)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144096)

oh sorry, you must be American. not used to seeing non-obese people i guess.

This is Slashdot. It's not like any of you have actually seen a hot chick up close.

Re:I agree (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143428)

That anorexic chick needs a few cheeseburgers before she hasn't any curves and reaches the level of "banging-hot"

I agree that she's not all that pleasant-looking.

I'm pretty surprised that she ended up as the T-Mobile spokesmodel. She doesn't make me want to buy a phone so much as have an intervention to get her to stop binging and purging. She even has that shiny weird complexion that bulimic women sometimes get.

I don't really care that she's got such a good job if I didn't have to see the outline of her teeth through her cheeks on a billboard 20"x60" whenever I drive East on Jackson Blvd.

Re:I agree (3, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143572)

It's sad that you mistake "fat rolls" for "curves". She's got plenty of curves in all the right places. What she doesn't have is a muffin top and a sagging gut - now if you find that look sexy, hey man, whatever gets you off. But she's damn hot - and part of why she's so hot is that she comes across as genuinely friendly, not just a girl being paid to act friendly.

Re:I agree (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142688)

T-Mobile has a banging-hot chick in their advertisements.

And i find it hard to believe that when they were filming their latest commercial they didn't notice what it actually sounds like when they're singing "walking in a 4g wonderland."

Re:I agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142824)

Who doesn't like walking in orgy wonderlands?

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143238)

Banging hot chicks are in my interest, clearly.

In my neighborhood... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143866)

...the T-Mobile store is right next to a sex shop.

The giant posters of the T-Mobile girl (her name is Carly Foulkes, btw) make me want to go to the sex shop more than they make me want to buy a phone.

So let me get this straight. (5, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142550)

This is not in the public interest but allowing fragmentation of cellular standards between GSM/HSPA and CDMA was in the public interest by allowing the major carriers to offer incompatible services so that they did not have to directly compete with each other was? Was it in the public interest to allow a a further fragmentation of GSM/HSPA between standard HSPA with AT&T and AWS for T-Mobile? Was it in the public interest to allow further fragmentation of CDMA with Sprint going early with CDMA + WiMax?

The major carriers could have all agreed to use HSPA years ago and shared the standard frequencies used in Canada just like how Canada has Telus, Bell, Rogers and smaller virtual carriers all operating HSPA frequency networks compatible with the iPhone and other popular handsets.

Re:So let me get this straight. (4, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142604)

They let the market sort it out. I might not have been the best approach from a technical point of view, but from a capitalistic point of view it was fine. Given that the carriers practically give away phones every time you sign a contract, having to wait a year or two to jump carriers is not the end of the world. It would be great if you could take your phone with you, but that would be unAmerican. I would rather that the carriers get to decide what technologies they want to use. Expecting the government to make educated decisions when it comes to technology is unrealistic.

Re:So let me get this straight. (4, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142710)

And CDMA works better in wide open spaces and GSM works better in populated areas. Is it any wonder that Sprint and Verizon rule the Southwest while AT&T rules the Northeast? Having the government choose a single standard would have been a mistake.

Re:So let me get this straight. (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142964)

I live in a populated area, no GSM doesn't work any better than CDMA does. My reception with Sprint was significantly better than my reception with AT&T. Where the former uses CDMA and the latter uses GSM. A few minutes ago I tried to call a friend and despite having 4 bars I wasn't able to complete the call. I got through, but there wasn't any ability to talk.

Re:So let me get this straight. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143040)

AT&T's incompetence doesn't necessarily mean that GSM is a bad implementation. It just means that AT&T sucks. I've had T-Mobile for a few years and it works fine in the populated areas I live in.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143284)

Four bars means you were talking to the cell tower. Your inability to complete the call is something else besides GSM/CDMA. The call would never even start to connect if it was the tower's fault. Could be AT&T's network behind the scenes, but I would find that surprising.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144010)

Could be AT&T's network behind the scenes, but I would find that surprising.

As an AT&T customer (not for much longer), I certainly don't find that surprising at all.

Re:So let me get this straight. (4, Informative)

don.g (6394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143198)

2G GSM has limitiations due to the time-division nature of its air interface that makes covering large areas not work due to propogation delay. 3G GSM *is* CDMA. It covers large areas well at a lower frequency, but initial deployments were all at 2.1GHz which has issues with signal propogation (read: doesn't go through buildings/etc as well as sub 1GHz GSM).

Minor nitpick: in the above I use "CDMA" to mean "Code-division multiple access", a generic description of the approach that the IS-95 and 1xRTT air interfaces use -- they are commonly referred to as CDMA, they're what sprint/verizon use/used, but there are other protocols that use that approach too.

Re:So let me get this straight. (2, Insightful)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143282)

They let the market sort it out. I might not have been the best approach from a technical point of view, but from a capitalistic point of view it was fine.

No, it wasn't "fine" from a free market point of view either. In order to have an efficient market, people need to be able to make choices.

Expecting the government to make educated decisions when it comes to technology is unrealistic.

The government didn't have to guess, it could simply have forced companies to pick a common standard. Furthermore, given how far behind the US is with deploying these technologies, all they needed to do is to look what worked elsewhere.

Generally, this kind of government intervention is undesirable. But for mobile phones, the existing system clearly is not working well.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1, Informative)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142648)

Mod parent up.

Re:So let me get this straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143638)

No.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142734)

I've always found that point funny, coming from a different country. 12 years ago I was travelling from the UK to europe, scandinavia, africa and asia while keeping in touch with home without issues. You poor bastards, living in such a third world country!

That's what you get for keeping a system that allows companies to run your country.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143874)

I've always found that point funny, coming from a different country. 12 years ago I was travelling from the UK to europe, scandinavia, africa and asia while keeping in touch with home without issues. You poor bastards, living in such a third world country!

That's what you get for keeping a system that allows companies to run your country.

Just wait until you see what we did with healthcare!

You're just jealous because we've got hot Norwegian chicks like Sarah Palin.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142748)

This also sort of explains why the US is the way it is, because everywhere else it seems GSM/HSPA works.

Posting only to un-do a faulty mod. But seriously I didn't click-slip, there's some bug than turned my intended mod into flamebait.

Re:So let me get this straight. (0)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143674)

Posting only to un-do a faulty mod. But seriously I didn't click-slip, there's some bug than turned my intended mod into flamebait.

There is a setting that changes the "oops I didn't mean that" kind of "once you select the moderation status for an article it happens and you can't undo it" mode into "select all the moderations and then do them at the end" mode. I can't tell you what it is, but I got so tired of the instant moderation setting that I searched for it and changed whatever I could until it went back to normal.

Re:So let me get this straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142842)

Yeah... there is no way you can seriously be arguing that the state Canadian telcoms are in is preferable what we have here in the US.

Re:So let me get this straight. (4, Informative)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143166)

Yeah... there is no way you can seriously be arguing that the state Canadian telcoms are in is preferable what we have here in the US.

Hmm. Let's see.... I can get a subsidized iPhone 4S on any plan combination of data and voice as long as it is at least 50 dollars per month and I can choose one of the following HSPA+ carriers: Rogers, Fido, Bell, Telus, Koodo, Virgin or one of several regional carriers if I happen to live in a couple of the provinces. Canada got unlocked iPhones a year before they became available in the US and several of the carriers offer unlocking either 90 days into the contract in good standing or at the end of the contract. I got my 4S subsidized on a 70 dollars per month plan that included 6GB of data (free tethering), 6pme evenings and weekends, 10 favourite numbers, unlimited texts/MMS and voice mail.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142918)

This is not in the public interest but allowing fragmentation of cellular standards between GSM/HSPA and CDMA was in the public interest ...

I believe that when someone does something right, slamming them for doing something else wrong is not the best use of time. If we want to see more good activity, we should support the good activity--in other words, more flies with honey.

Re:So let me get this straight. (2)

mgblst (80109) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143336)

So, you are too stupid to understand limited government involvement. Perhaps you think the government should be making all decisions for corporations, what OS they should run, etc....

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

geniusj (140174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143462)

Well.. Almost. [windmobile.ca]

Re:So let me get this straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143702)

HSPA and AWS are apples and oranges.

Here's the story:
Europe agrees on 900Mhz/1800Mhz GSM, all carriers use the same frequency
North America fails to agree on one frequency, let alone three. So the official bands are 850/1900 which are used by all carriers in the "GSM" standard, but AT&T(formerly Cingular and AT&T Mobility) and Rogers went to 2100Mhz with UMTS while T-Mobile went to 1700Mhz, thus ensuring no compatible 3G frequencies. You can roam onto each carrier's networks if you turn UMTS off on your phone, but you're stuck at GPRS/EDGE speed.

HSPA is an upgrade to the UMTS 3G spec, not to GSM/EDGE (2G), what people fail to understand is that the technology evolution is really like this:
AMPS(0G) --- TDMA(1G)--- GSM(2G) - GSM-EDGE(2.5G) (TDMA)--- UMTS(3G) - HSPA+(3.5G) (W-CDMA)--- LTE (3.5G) - LTE-Advanced(4G) (W-CDMA)

On the other side of the fence:
AMPS(0g) --- CDMA(1G) --- CDMA1X(2G) --- CDMA EV-DO (2.5G) --- CDMA EV-DO Rev A & Rev B (3G) -- CDMA EV-DV (Canceled), replaced with LTE for 3.5G/4G.

As far as marketing is concerned it's all marketing misnaming. If you want to be specific about it. AMPS is 1G, TDMA, GSM and CDMA were all 2G, but because GSM was an upgrade to TDMA, throwing away the old TDMA system entirely (except for GAIT phones) it's still a 2G network. Unfortunately AT&T mobility would label this 2.5G or 3G depending on what you looked at. Officially 3G is UMTS on the GSM timeline, with 4G being LTE-Advanced. Nothing else. Everything marketed as 4G, even if it uses LTE, is not 4G because they don't support the 4G speeds.

LTE is not backwards compatible with GSM nor is it backwards compatible with the CDMA system. The compatability is in the PHONE. If the phone doesn't have a chip that can do everything then you don't get any handover in absense of the required towers, even if the phone supports the right frequencies. At some point Verizon and AT&T will allocate all their spectrum from GSM and CDMA to LTE, just like they did with AMPS and TDMA. But until then...

There will be no compatable handsets between carriers in the US because of the balkanization of the 3G and 4G spectrum. Just look at it from the handset providers point of view, gee gosh why does the iPad without 3G cost 130$ less. Why does the iPhone cost 400$ more than the iPod Touch (other than the camera.) Simple... because most of the cost of the phone radio goes to Qualcomm due to patents. Here's why Monopolies are bad mmmkay. Nobody wants to make an expensive chip that nobody is going to buy that supports everything, so let's make chips that support only the most popular technology and frequency bands and save a few bucks.

Apple isn't using Qualcomm's LTE chip because it's an entire extra CPU. Perfect for all those shitty throw-away feature phones, but Apple doesn't need it and is going to wait for a stand-alone radio chip. Meanwhile T-Mobile and any other carrier with LTE or 1700Mhz band (AWS) is screwed since their phones don't work. T-Mobile could, if they wanted to make a risky bet, repurpose all their spectrum to LTE, and only sell LTE phones going forward.

If Apple wanted to stick it to the cell phone carriers, they could make their next iPhone LTE-only, and support all the LTE frequencies, and keep the 4S for those who live in the boondocks where there's no LTE. This would ensure that all the carriers get their LTE networks up to snuff quickly. I could see Apple doing this to maintain the phone size and power envelope, but it's more likely for the iPhone 6 than the 5.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144136)

This is not in the public interest but allowing fragmentation of cellular standards between GSM/HSPA and CDMA was in the public interest by allowing the major carriers to offer incompatible services so that they did not have to directly compete with each other was?

You sound like you expect some logical, objective standards about what the government decides is "in the public interest" when it comes to mergers. The reality is anything but. America used to have three major airliner manufacturers. Lockheed got out of the business, and then Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas. This left America with one airliner manufacturer. The US government was fine with granting a total monopoly in that field.

"In the public interest" is whatever the current crop of politicians decides it is.

AT&T mouthpiece (5, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142556)

Larry Solomon, senior vice president of corporate communications at AT&T, called the F.C.C.’s action “disappointing.”

“It is yet another example of a government agency acting to prevent billions in new investment and the creation of many thousands of new jobs at a time when the U.S. economy desperately needs both,”

Just because AT&T continues to say that the deal would result in investment does make it true. If they were interested in investing in infrastructure and jobs, they would do it. Instead they want to buy T-Mobile, loot whatever is left in their coffers and lay off all of their workers.

When an organization as corrupt as the United States government is coming out against a deal, you can be certain that something is rotten in Denmark.

Re:AT&T mouthpiece (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142752)

The best part is the implication that government, funded by citizens paying taxes, has some grudge against businesses investing money and creating jobs.

Re:AT&T mouthpiece (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142934)

Honestly, they should be charged with a violation of the Lanham act just for that statement.

Re:AT&T mouthpiece (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142990)

I think the relevant bit here is that there are some lies that are so big that even government agencies can't look the other way. This would be one of them. AT&T would have brought a bunch of low paying call center jobs back to the US and laid off a significant number of technicians that would no longer be needed to maintain the duplicate infrastructure.

I'm not sure how anybody could possibly buy the notion that prices would go down when competition is reduced form 4 to 3 companies. And probably from there to 2 companies.

Re:AT&T mouthpiece (1, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144040)

It's called the "Big Lie". Repeat a lie often enough and people will start to believe it. Just look at how all the Teabaggers believe that monopolies and cartels are good for the economy.

Re:AT&T mouthpiece (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143260)

Just because AT&T continues to say that the deal would result in investment does make it true. If they were interested in investing in infrastructure and jobs, they would do it.

No, their problem is permitting for cell tower space takes 3-5 years because of FCC delays. AT&T is over-capacity today, and can't wait that long to build out, so they need T-Mobile's towers.

Instead they want to buy T-Mobile, loot whatever is left in their coffers and lay off all of their workers.

No, they want to take their tower space, loot whatever is left in their coffers, and lay off all their workers. This is the only choice the FCC's rules leave them. Not that the FCC could ever change its rules or anything.

When an organization as corrupt as the United States government is coming out against a deal, you can be certain that something is rotten in Denmark.

Yeah, you can bet Verizon Wireless execs are dancing in the streets!

I rule the FCC to not be in the public interest.

Re:AT&T mouthpiece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143594)

No, they want to take their tower space, loot whatever is left in their coffers, and lay off all their workers. This is the only choice the FCC's rules leave them. Not that the FCC could ever change its rules or anything.

Yeah... no other choice. They couldn't possibly negotiate a deal with TMobile where Tmo gets paid by ATT for carrying some of ATT's traffic burden for the next, oh say, 3-5 years. It might even cost them a little less than 40 billion dollars.

I want to be a corporate spokesperson (2)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142562)

and get paid for lying through my teeth!

Hey! We're buying T-Mobile to keep it out of the hands of our rivals. We don't care about the customers or the service, in fact we just want T-Mobile gone. But we'll tell you that the merger will create tens of thousands of jobs! And fewer companies in the marketplace means more competition! Yeah, baby!

I'm glad someone in the FCC has the cojones to stand up to this sort of nonsense.

Re:I want to be a corporate spokesperson (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143414)

I have been saying legacy PR based on controlling the message is fundamentally flawed for a while now.

Google should buy these folks... (2)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142584)

...that way, Google can talk (read boast) of true vertical integration. How about that?

Re:Google should buy these folks... (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142750)

It would never get approved because of that, not after the Motorola deal anyways, but i think it would be a great thing, or at least better than the alternatives. It would keep T-Mobile alive as a GSM alternative to AT&T at least and i don't think vertical integration is all that bad as long as you've got plenty of horizontal competition at all the levels.

But even aside from the regulatory approval, $40 billion is a pretty large chunk of change, even for Google.

Re:Google should buy these folks... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142902)

$40 billion? Pocket change [ycharts.com] .

Re:Google should buy these folks... (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143600)

From the site you linked: "Google Cash and ST Investments: 42.56B." I don't think "practically every bit of cash you have on hand" equates to "pocket change."

Re:Google should buy these folks... (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143748)

Who do you know who has cash on hand which is not in their pocket? Do you have bills sewed into your mattress? Stacks of bills stashed away in a wall safe? If you have a lot of cash, you put it in some form of investment. Cash *IS* pocket change.

Re:Google should buy these folks... (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143884)

Lots of people? I have one friend who has a large pile of cash in a safe. Personally i have a couple thousand in a simple savings account which is effectively the same thing (the "ST Investments" bit in "Cash and ST Investments") That's aside from the couple hundred i get paid in cash every month from my roommate, which sits on my desk and is only slowly transferred to my literal pockets as needed. And when you're speaking of approximately five times their current annual profit it's not pocket change anymore no matter where you keep it. You seem to be confusing the literal interpretation of a phrase with its actual meaning.

Re:Google should buy these folks... (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143016)

Vertical integration isn't illegal provided that the company doesn't use it to harm the competition. Amazon right now represents a vertically integrated publisher where they own all steps from production to distribution and in some cases even the reader you read on. They haven't been sued for antitrust violations nor will they likely any time soon as they're still disrupting the industry and bringing more competition to the market.

Depending upon how Google handled it they could definitely bring competition via a vertical monopoly. Remember being a monopoly isn't illegal, abusing market position is.

Check their trading bets, by the way (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142616)

By the way, the insider trading is allowed to the government officials it seems [wjbc.com] , never mind that I believe it's above government's authority to regulate business activity in any way, including this nonsense [slashdot.org] , but how about checking who from the government set which bets on the stock market, given that they have voted themselves an exclusion from insider trading laws and have all the necessary information to set their bets to come out on top of any trade like this, where government is involved in making decisions.

When FDA makes a decision about allowing a drug on a market, the officials there don't have to guess, they know what the market effect will be (will the stock price go up or down dramatically, as it happens with drug companies based on FDA decision).

All of this just shows how really incompetent the government officials are, that with all this information and all this power and all this exclusion from the rules they themselves set up for the rest of the people in the country, they are still not multi billionaires, every one of them, completely cornering the market with every decision they make.

Or maybe they are, and they just have loopholes that allow them to hide this information from the eyes of the public?

INEVITABLE MERGER (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142620)

Assuming AT&T can't by T-Mobile,who else is going to buy / merge with T-Mobile?
The whole deal was based around AT&T hugely over paying for the benefit of reducing competition,
other companies may well want to buy T-Mobile, it just doesn't make sense at the rate AT&T was paying.
AT&T could even buy parts of T-Mobile, either network or spectrum, but if they can't get anything that reduces competition,
then they have no reason to pay more than anybody else, and have an existing network that they can invest in without competing over bid price.

T-Mobile really does need to grow by being acquired or a merger, in order to present real competition to AT&T. I think it will happen.

Re:INEVITABLE MERGER (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142764)

Approval would be far more likely were it Sprint trying to buy it, especially in light of the document that leaked proving that AT&T was just trying to buy out the competition to have less of it. However, Sprint doesn't have the money to do so and is still trying to deal with the technology merger from when it bought Nextel. Maybe in a few years, when LTE is the de facto standard instead of the competing 3G techs, such a merger will make sense, but not now.

Re:INEVITABLE MERGER (2)

bored_engineer (951004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142792)

Could Google? I was thinking about Apple wanting to build out it's own network of sorts, then thinking about Apple being able to control the experience from top to bottom. A few minutes on Google and I find that T-mobile is worth about $11 Billion, and Google has about $37 Billion on hand. When you also consider that Google has flirted with providing wifi in cities, and is rolling out a fiber network in Kansas City, it makes an odd kind of sense that they might want a cellular network, too.

Re:INEVITABLE MERGER (3, Insightful)

LeperPuppet (1591409) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142908)

Why does someone have to buy T-Mobile?

Re:INEVITABLE MERGER (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143042)

That's what I want to know. Supposedly the parent company is looking to sell T-Mobile. Personally, I'd expect somebody like Centurylink to buy it up. Centurylink bought Qwest a while back and provides internet in many states, owning a cell business as well would make it much more competitive with folks like Verizon and allow for it to roll out improved services much more quickly.

Ultimately it's hard to say, but I would expect for somebody that isn't currently a major player in the cell phone market to buy T-Mobile. Assuming it isn't spun off.

Re:INEVITABLE MERGER (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144072)

Because T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, wants to sell, AT&T or not.

Re:INEVITABLE MERGER (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143254)

How about Carlos Slim?

Re:INEVITABLE MERGER (2)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143812)

Here's an idea. Not every goddam company has to be bought / merged with some fucking shark^H^H^H larger company. How the hell is it in the public interest for companies to go on endless buying binges? The logical end result is going to be THE COMPANY. Want a car? Buy it from THE COMPANY. A milkshake? THE COMPANY. No choice whatsoever; no competition.

And here's another thought. Company B does not have to be of comparable size to company A to compete with it in the marketplace.

And why does every company have to "grow" or be written off? You do realize that the logical end of every company growing exponentially is an absurdity.

TMobile Competitive Without AT&T... (3, Informative)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142718)

While TMobile service languishes in some areas, as a subscriber of ~7 years (flipped in years ago after AT&T Cellular last went tits up), while their domestic service presence isn't quite as dominant as Verizon, I enjoy international travel with my cell and a respectable domestic rate versus the competitors that I continue to pray they don't get sucked into the vortex of Verizon, AT&T, and increasingly Sprint of all companies. I have no contract, pay $100 a month for two phones between my wife & I, unlimited text, plenty of voice, and unlimited data on one phone where this seems like a "bargain" (the rest of the developed world laughs at what I consider a good rate).

What I enjoy for "landline" service (Ooma VOIP "free" $5 a year to cover taxes), the rest of the world enjoys a similar experience for wireless. TMobile seems like the black horse right now, and I rather see them follow through on a merger with Sprint than AT&T, mainly to bring back the third competitor in the pack similar to what was enjoyed in the late 80's/early 90's between MCI, AT&T, and Sprint. That set the bar for me personally where 3 competitors in telecom was a minimum number necessary for what I considered a truly competitive balance where they made their money and I felt I got value for my money. This is necessarily in the telecom space in my humble opinion with how things are looking. If a Verizon and AT&T duopoply were to happen .. watch Sprint disappear (as their coverage contract with Verizon "mysteriously" disappears and their coverage would suck worse than TMobile again) and rates suck ass across the board. The ability to enter the wireless market would continue to entertain higher barriers, so this would be difficult to overcome.

Re:TMobile Competitive Without AT&T... (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143286)

I used to have T-Mobile, and loved their customer service. I had to switch for job reasons but I still think about switching back. TM are the only carrier that I have used that wasn't pretty much constantly screwing me around one way or another.

AT&T can just wait it out (1, Insightful)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142722)

Once the business friendly Republicans win more elections, all of this will be reversed. AT&T needs to start bribing / donating some big bucks in that direction to make it happen.

5 Minutes (2)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142770)

"AT&T's plan to merge with T-Mobile just hit a pretty big snag. The FCC declared the merger would be anti-competitive and not in the public interest."

And it took them how long to figure this out? Most of us knew it in the first 5 minutes.

T-mobile bankruptcy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142778)

T-mobile is probably going to file for bakruptcy in the next year.

The T-Mobile Girl (2)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142794)

And so the T-Mobile girl lives to strut another day.

Re:The T-Mobile Girl (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143300)

I'd eat an ice cream sandwich out of her asshole.

for those not in the know: (5, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38142850)

The reason why allowing att to buy tmobile is "epically, boneheadedly bad for the public interest" is as follows:

The FCC licensed both tmobiles and atts GSM spectrum as exclusive licenses.

This means that if you want to use a gsm technology device on internaltionally standardized frequencies in the us, you either use att, or tmobile. (Or one of their downstream sublicensed local carriers.)

Allowing tmobile and att to merge (given the lopsided nature of such a process though, "buyout" seems more applicable..) would create a single, exclusively licensed "super carrier" that owns the whole standard gsm band, creating a natural monopoly. Historically, natural monopolies have never been in the public's best interest. (See standard oil, bell telephone, etc.)

Add to that the leaked inside documents showing that the cost of aquisition of tmobile exceeds by a large sum the estimated costs of builing out comparable capacity on att's existing network infrastructure, and also the fact that once att owns tmobile's spectrum license, it can choose to revoke any downstream sublicensing agreements with local gsm carriers that are currently contracted with tmobile.

The potential for upheval in the already low-diversity market for gsm carriers, the potential for massive job destruction from having licenses pulled, and the omnipresent risk of abusive monopoly pricing with no free market alternative (CDMA is not a valid alternative if you require international operation) is simply and demonstrably unacceptable.

Re:for those not in the know: (1)

Commontwist (2452418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143248)

Ahhh.... Yes, that would be... bad.

Re:for those not in the know: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143422)

Just a note, you are using the term natural monopoly incorrectly. The situation you describe would be a government granted, structural, legal, or de jure monopoly depending on the econ professor you talk to due to the government's grant of an exclusive license of the GSM Spectrum. Without the exclusive license the phone industry tends toward a natural monopoly anyway, but that is not the case you were laying out.

Re:for those not in the know: (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143632)

It could be seen either way. There is a naturally limited resource (internationally standardized frequencies), with a single gatekeeper entity. Similar to the "last mile" issue with landlines, you cannot just conjure new frequencies into being, and have them work with standard hardware. (Likewise you can't just go lay new fiber.)

Its a bit ambiguous, I'll grant that. Regardless, its still not in the public interest, regardless of what kind of monopoly is granted.

This FCC??? (2)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143182)

The same FCC chair that wants to relax media consolidation rules yet again? With the chairman being the very person that profited by the "Rupert Murdoch" fiasco that led to Fox and Vivendi?

"He was Chief of Business Operations and a member of Barry Diller's Office of the Chairperson at IAC/InterActiveCorp and executive responsible for the creation of Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting. He earned at least $USD2.5 million when Vivendi acquired Universal assets in 2003.[10]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Genachowski [wikipedia.org]

I wonder which way this will go *smirk*

The LAST phone company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143310)

When I joined the GSM provider they couldn't afford hot chicks and this Parrot was their spokesman - some number of acquisitions before everything turned Magenta. For as long as I can remember, they've been 'the last' phone company - nth of n players, 6th of 6 major players, 4th of 4 major players, etc. but the exact same reason AT+T wants to buy them is the reason I don't want them to be bought. T-Mo has spectrum - which with fewer customers means bandwidth. Sure, AT+T could build it out for a fraction of the price of buying T-Mo, but buying T-Mo is 'expedient' and then all their bandwidth hungry devices get to use T-Mo's spectrum - sucks for the T-Mo customer. And as long as they're T-Mo, they have to work to get and keep customers, being the LAST phone company and all. When is the last time you heard about winning AT+T Customer Service? not since started a credit card.

Don't make the same mistake as Canada! (5, Interesting)

kenneth_hk_wong (442341) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143536)

This CDMA vs GSM debate is totally off topic. WRT the merger question, the FCC is totally right. Like AT&T want to do, Rogers did acquire FIDO because this pesky little competitor in the GSM space (Bell and Telus have CDMA networks) dared come out with a very competitive "unlimited" plan (CityFido for those that remember). Friends of mine that were lawyers in this field were shocked that the CRTC allowed this merger to happen. At very least, they thought the CRTC would have used their regulatory authority to impose some undertakings, for example, you must grandfather not only CityFido subscribers, but continue to offer this plan for X number of years. They didn't and the first thing that Rogers did was essentially eliminate the CityFido plans as they had existed.

Now Canada has among the lowest rates of smartphone/cellphone usage and subcriber base in the world and surprise, among the highest smartphone/cellphone pricing in the world. Just google it and you will see. A survey I saw not long ago put Canada around Peru for cellphone subscription rates. What an embarassment.

It was a huge battle to bring in a competitor (Wind Mobile) because of the narrow interpretation of the legislation the CRTC used to the benefit of the incumbents. The Canadian market desperately needed new competitors to shake up the market because the incumbents were clearly operating as oligopolists and the regulator was letting it happen unabashed. It took an act of Cabinet to overrule the regulator and though rates have dropped 30% overnight, Wind is not having an easy go at it. The Egyptian financial backer actually regrets jumping into the market. Just google Wind Mobile in the news and you can see for yourself.

In this case, Canada is not living up to that mythical socialist ideal that so many Americans think we are. In the wireless space we are where the US incumbents want to be if they could buy off the politicians and the regulators. Less competition, more profits!!!! The Canadian wireless market is a textbook example of how certain industries NEED regulators to keep anticompetitive behaviour under control in order to encourage growth and advancement.

As a Canadian, I used to look longingly at the rapid pace of innovation and the menu of options you have in the US. Mega-mergers like this will take you along the path to where we are in Canada.

Good luck to you!

It might save Sprint, but... (2)

MrWin2kMan (918702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38143602)

The FCC should have mandated GSM for the entire U.S. at the outset, as Europe and many other countries did. That would have ensured interoperability, and provided the opportunity for customers to have an actual competitive marketplace. Denial of this merger is going to continue to hobble the U.S. mobile marketplace, and simply leave two strong and one three so-so operators out of four. If the merger goes through, and Verizon subsequently picks off Sprint, then we would have two extremely strong competitors duking it out. Admittedly, Sprint needs T-Mobile more than AT&T does, but it really doesn't matter who wins T-Mo, as magenta will be going away regardless. Everyone has their own opinion on which carrier sucks balls the most, but in the end, the real measure is the technology they use. Sprint and later Verizon Wireless started out with a really innovative technology, then stripped out all that was good and innovative out of it. PCS had a chance to give GSM a run for its' money, but the fractured U.S. marketplace left behind after the breakup of Ma Bell, along with the lack of a unified national communications policy, disincentivized companies from investing in PCS, all while Europe continued to cement their centralized market together and develop multi-national unified policies on many fronts, including telecommunications, resulting in GSM. This is one specific example of why the AT&T consent agreement was ill-timed and poorly thought out.

What's the alternative? (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144060)

I heard that T-Mobile wants to rid themselves of their US division. If it isn't making enough revenue to be kept on the books, it probably isn't doing well enough to stand on its own either. Which likely means it will just fold up completely.

Hence either T-Mobile is bought out by AT&T and we have one fewer carrier, or T-Mobile goes under and we have one fewer carrier. It seems like we might at least preserve a few jobs with option number one that would otherwise be lost with option number two. The other main carriers don't want to buy a GSM provider, it doesn't make technological sense. They just want a shot at picking off some T-Mobile customers that they might not otherwise get if AT&T buys them out.
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