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T-Mobile Merging With MetroPCS

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the one-carrier-to-take-fourth-place dept.

Cellphones 86

Daetrin writes "Last year T-Mobile tried to merge with AT&T but the deal was blocked by the FCC. Now T-Mobile and MetroPCS have agreed to merge in a $1.5 billion deal. There doesn't seem to be much concern that the FCC will disagree with this deal, perhaps because the two companies combined will have a user base of 42.5 million, which will still be smaller than the #3 player Sprint's 56.4 million. Because the two companies have similar spectrum holdings T-Mobile claims the merger will allow them to offer better coverage. They also say they will continue to offer a range of both on and off-contract plans."

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86 comments

But the real question is. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41538803)

Will they keep Carly Foulkes?

Angegriffen! (2, Interesting)

busyqth (2566075) | about a year and a half ago | (#41538809)

The German Juggernaut strikes again!

Re:Angegriffen! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41539265)

Panzerfaust!

This can't be good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41540651)

The Germans are buying Ghetto PCS?

They're no doubt planning to round up their Jewish customers and force them to their new acquisition.

As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this merger (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41538893)

Because the two companies have similar spectrum holdings T-Mobile claims the merger will allow them to offer better coverage.

And therein is the lie. Because the FCC hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, allowed a merger in recent history between a major carrier and a smaller one without imposing the requirement that substantial amounts of overlapping spectrum be disposed of. Both carriers have nationwide AWS, and while MetroPCS's PCS spectrum is more limited, it exists mostly in areas that T-Mobile already has coverage.

So what does this mean in practice? It means:

- Less competition - less incentive to reduce prices or improve services
- Another round of layoffs, probably numbering in the thousands, possibly tens of thousands.
- More customers on less spectrum, with at least initially multiple network standards making spectrum sharing even harder.
- More costly spectrum refarming
- Either maintenance of four largely incompatible networks (2GSM, IS95/2000, UMTS, and LTE) or the migration of all IS95/2000 customers to 2GSM/UMTS/LTE, at considerable cost.
- Funds spent on the above that could be spent on rolling out 3G to uncovered areas, or rolling out LTE. Or improving their deteriorating customer service.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, there'll be one less alternative existing T-Mobile customers can jump to in the event T-Mobile gets worse. Which it will.

Also, from a phone geek's PoV, this is a merger between a company that's always been hostile towards customers having control over their own devices, and one that used to be liberal on the subject but has become more and more controlling lately. And directors of the former will be taking up prominent roles in the new company.

This is a terrible, terrible, idea, and the people behind it are terrible, terrible, people.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41538943)

You sir, are an idiot!

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41541495)

just ignore the butt-hurt at&t shill

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (4, Insightful)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year and a half ago | (#41538991)

Also, from a phone geek's PoV, this is a merger between a company that's always been hostile towards customers having control over their own devices, and one that used to be liberal on the subject but has become more and more controlling lately. And directors of the former will be taking up prominent roles in the new company.

Yet I've been with T-mobile for 10 years now (Powertel -> VoiseStream -> T-Mobile) and I have yet to experience this hostility you speak of. Neither have the friends I know on MetroPCS and T-Mobile.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539057)

MetroPCS has always locked down its phones. T-Mobile has been increasingly locking down its phones and services over the last few years, culminating in the "You can only use this myTouch data plan with myTouch devices and cannot use a non-myTouch data plan with a myTouch phone" stupidity a couple of years ago that, thankfully, they backed out of a little.

Used to be the case that data was data. You had two plans, T-Mobile Internet, which was the Internet, and the T-Mobile web thing (I forget the name) that blocked some ports, and you could use the former for whatever you wanted. For some reason, they decided Android meant they should stop doing that.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (2, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539117)

They did that for all the smart phones, basically the feature phones that were incapable of using much data had a different plan than the smartphones that could use a lot. Makes sense to me.

Now they have true unlimited data for $20/month.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539153)

Yes, they had data plans for certain phones such as the MyTouches and the SideKick. Which, if you will recall, were cheaper plans than standard internet because the devices were limited in what they could do.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539585)

The myTouch is a standard Android phone. The plan wasn't cheaper, and there wasn't any reason to have a seperate plan.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540169)

I'm pretty sure it made sense to charge me more for my G1 (which was a different plan in name only than the mytouch) than for my 6800. Any reasonable person can figure out which one is going to use more data, even though both were unlimited.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (2, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539649)

T-Mobile has been increasingly locking down its phones and services over the last few years, culminating in the "You can only use this myTouch data plan with myTouch devices and cannot use a non-myTouch data plan with a myTouch phone" stupidity a couple of years ago that, thankfully, they backed out of a little.

I'm not doubting you, but I had no such experience from T-Mobile. They always unlocked my MyTouch phone 3 weeks after purchase. Waiting 3 weeks allowed me to simply return the phone if I didn't like it. T-Mobile even went out of their way to make sure my MyTouch 3G and later MyTouch 4G was unlocked in time for me to use Vodafone while I was in Australia.

I'm also able to use my grandfathered data plan with my MyTouch phone. However, I did have to leave my really cheap 2G data plan for a more expensive 3G data plan (still cheaper than today's plan) back when 3G first came available. I'm still on that 3G plan and have access to both 3G and 4G features of my phone.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (3, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540503)

Same experience here. I've had T-Mobile for over 12 years (from when they were Voicestream). I'm currently on a Galaxy Nexus unlocked and purchased straight from Google on a $50/month unlimited voice/data/text plan.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540639)

Similar time with T-Mobile. I haven't had a T-Mobile official phone for five or six years. No problem. And when I got my LG they added the old $10/month data plan without forcing me to leave my grandfathered $24/month plan.

I don't know what the plans are called, I don't care. I don't see anything being blocked or limited, and I've used the phone as a NAP to link both my Xoom and my laptop into the net.

T-Mobile has phases. They had a stupid phase a few years ago. As far as I can tell, they're in happy phase now. I hope this doesn't screw it up. But even at their worst, they were never as bad as Boost was the three days I tried to get service from them.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

angrytuna (599871) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540765)

I agree with the parent. I'm currently using the TMobile Galaxy S2 in Canada, which I had unlocked 60 days after purchase. Whenever I cross the border north, I drop in a PAYG SIM from Fido. Works great. I'm also able to buy a $1 daypass from Fido for data on the fly, and that works great as well. (the 10M data cap on the day pass makes it for emergencies only, but it's certainly nice to have it for that).

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541975)

True, but the fact that T-Mo now lets you bring your own device at a much lower rate mitigates some of their lockdown issues. I hope that is not a feature that goes away, because it has really worked well for me.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

gweilo8888 (921799) | about a year and a half ago | (#41542285)

This. I've only been with T-Mobile for a little under a year, but that gives an idea of their current thinking--and they have actually *helped* me get both of my devices, neither of which was purchased from T-Mobile and one if which isn't even sold in the US market--onto their US network. The grandparent strikes me as fearmongering for the sake of it.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41539229)

That's an awful comprehensive post for being just minutes after the article goes live. Almost as if you already had it typed up and ready to post as news of this merger goes live.

Pretty slanted and one sided too. It sounds like you've got a stake in what happens here, or work for someone who does.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41539407)

If you can't type that post in 11 minutes, then please go back to English 101.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539423)

I'm a subscriber, I wrote it while the article was still red. Although yes, I did know about the merger earlier this morning, Slashdot wasn't exactly first with this news.

What's this fetish on "first with the news"? (1)

rsborg (111459) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541251)

Slashdot wasn't exactly first with this news.

Isn't it better to be "best with the news"? ie, not just report the facts, but provide background material and insightful commentary that helps the reader frame the facts and relate them to other facts that need to be relevant?

Or is it just that the speculators and stock chasers need to hurry and sell/buy/call/put the relevant stocks as fast as possible?

I prefer the commentary on Slashdot (and many other forums) more than the news reportage itself - many individual biases combined usually evens out to a relatively unbiased view.

Re:What's this fetish on "first with the news"? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541551)

*sigh* I wasn't criticising Slashdot, I was explaining how I could possibly have known and had an opinion about the merger before Slashdot posted an article about it.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539439)

I thought the same thing. At first, it smelled of astroturf, but then, there are a few customers that exactly know the score, but these are rare individuals. To have them readily poised to salt SlashDot takes preparation. The news broke yesterday, so that's perhaps sufficient time to sculpt something together into a comment. Oh, wait.....

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (4, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539539)

*sigh*

OK, here's the deal.

When you subscribe - which you did originally to remove ads and to block people commenting on your journals that you'd rather not - you get one additional perk which is to see the articles 30 minutes early. They appear with red banners. And thus you have time to craft an "on topic" early post.

There's no conspiracy, and I've been a Slashdotter for over a decade now as my comment history and tiny six digit user ID (I remember when that would have been a joke...) demonstrates. You'll also find, if you're that paranoid that you have to read it all, that I've been a T-Mobile customer for nearly a decade now, and have commented as such, repeatedly.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539835)

Then let me reply to these:

>- Less competition - less incentive to reduce prices or improve services

Mergers do that; not the best idea in a competitively shrinking market

>- Another round of layoffs, probably numbering in the thousands, possibly tens of thousands.

Sorry, that's one benefit of mergers for the companies. These days, nothing is forever.

>- More customers on less spectrum, with at least initially multiple network standards making spectrum sharing even harder.

That's until a "4g" network is rolled out. It also makes the merged body look less digestible by Sprint or Verizon.

>- More costly spectrum refarming

You must be a stockholder.

>- Either maintenance of four largely incompatible networks (2GSM, IS95/2000, UMTS, and LTE) or the migration of all IS95/2000 customers to 2GSM/UMTS/LTE, at considerable cost.

AT&T deals with this, and to a lesser extent, it will bite each carrier as well. 2GSM is on the way out; in seven years LTE will dominate, for better and worse.

>- Funds spent on the above that could be spent on rolling out 3G to uncovered areas, or rolling out LTE. Or improving their deteriorating customer service.

No, the funds were going to be spent anyway on LTE and expanding coverage. Customer service? You want service?

>Oh, and to add insult to injury, there'll be one less alternative existing T-Mobile customers can jump to in the event T-Mobile gets worse. Which it will.

We agree on this one, but Metro was having trouble with the same financing you cite as impediments to T-Mobile growth. You can't have it both ways.

>Also, from a phone geek's PoV, this is a merger between a company that's always been hostile towards customers having control over their own devices, and one that used to be liberal on the subject but has become more and more controlling lately. And directors of the former will be taking up prominent roles in the new company.

T-Mobile is no more awful than AT&T. I can get my T-Mobile phones unlocked in a few days. I can brute-force them if need-be. That a combined board might have strange people in it was out of your and my control anyway.

>This is a terrible, terrible, idea, and the people behind it are terrible, terrible, people.

I think the idea is neutral, and the people behind it are trying to survive. Can't blame them for that. How they are terrible otherwise is unknown to me, save they've squandered tonnage of goodwill. In the US, I otherwise have Verizon and you couldn't give me a free AT&T or Sprint phone and "service".

Tempest in a teapot. Not to dismiss your obvious hopes and dreams for T-Mobile, but these are carriers and they have no soul-- none of them.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

Ravenscall (12240) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540275)

As somebody with an even smaller user ID (see what I did there?), I still think you are jumping to conclusions.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539959)

Mergers are always good for CEOs and shareholders and always bad for everyone else. It's a rule. This is not sarcasm.

Consider the whole reason Verizon and AT&T dominate the market: Verizon happened when Bell Atlantic absorbed MCI and GTE; AT&T absorbed Cingular and a few others. Smaller players still exist, but competition is hard; without mergers very small players would drop off until a healthy culture formed, but with mergers one or two parasites become huge and dominating and make it harder for smaller players to gain traction.

The smaller players can merge, gaining a stronger hand to compete but increasing the distance between them and the other small players, which then makes it hard for those small players to compete--and then they either die off or get absorbed in mergers. Eventually small players can't exist, and as they die off the larger players come to scavenge the carcasses.

Each round of mergers brings a lot of similar services under one hand, where they become redundant or excessive. Having 14 non-redundant niche services is a money sink, and so 10 of them go away and the consumer has 4 to pick from which aren't always as well-matched to the individual consumer's needs as the services discontinued. Lay-offs occur, although we can typically bring that into a cost-savings and increase in efficiency, which is less economic waste and should be good--because it SHOULD cause a decrease in operational costs, leading to a decrease in pricing of services to consumers, leaving more free money in the economy to fund new ventures that can tap the newly freed labor pool. Unfortunately, what often happens is the price stays high and margins increase, so the economy gets additional labor that it doesn't have anything to do with and we have a bunch more people unemployed.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41540365)

AT&T absorbed Cingular and a few others

You should get your facts straight. Cingular was the carrier that absorbed AT&T Wireless. Cingular bought out the AT&T name, and renamed themselves to AT&T.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#41543841)

Not to mention that the "saved" costs due to the reduced redundancy and increased efficiency will most likely go into some executives' pockets as a year-end bonus, instead of back into the company's R&D.

Big companies are by and large, social parasites. They consolidate wealth into the few by reducing the wealth distributed into the many. There's really no other way to think about them. The only industry that is slightly better is the one that revolves around virtual goods and services, i.e. software companies. But as software, design, and other method patents gain prominence, this is becoming less so by the day.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41545341)

If you believe this to be true, buy some T-Mobile shares.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41547527)

T-Mobile is the company being bought, or they're doing the buying this round? In either case, it's already announced, so most of the fluctuation has happened. If there's a delay, the prices will normalize again until the merger is eminent.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539343)

Ditto to most of the dissent.

TMO is not always the driver when they don't offer boot unlockers. The manufacturers see that custom Android ROMs are a challenge to support (actually, unsupportable by them), so they resist letting us brick our phones with the latest zOMGTHIS ROM IS GREAT from who knows where. Your scorn is more accurately directed at the manufacturers. A lot of regional carriers also don't have the clout to get any perks from the manufacturers. This will help Metro subscribers in the end.

I've been a TMO use for 7 years. Can't say it's gotten worse when I get data speeds rising from 19KBto 12MB, texting from 200/mo to unlimited, and minutes from 300/mo to unlimited for the same money over that time. Yes, I pay more for the phone up front, but overall my service has improved, and despite a brief slip in customer care during the AT&T fiasco I'm happy with the service. Ask my wife how AT&T is for her iPhine plan, and she will bent about the rep attitudes, the 30% premium she pays for less service, and the inscrutible service problems here locally.

I don't think of the regional carriers as options because of my travel habits. And they don't try to sell to me.

My only question is, will Metro go GSM? LTE is not an issue, but I can't figure out if TMO will want to run both voice networks which pretty muich overlay each other in coverage. Is there a spectrum swap in the offing? Data capable spectrum is very dear now, and someone out there will make a deal.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539885)

TMO is not as bad as AT&T etc, what bothers me is that they're heading in that direction and have been ever since Android took off. No, I don't blame them for locked bootloaders per-se (although I don't believe they're blameless either, but they are good enough to host a "phone hacking" forum on their own website.) But they have been locking down plans and changing the system over the last few years from the liberal "T-Mobile Internet" and "Change your plan whenever you want with no contract obligations" policies to the policies they have now, which suck.

As far as your question goes: What I do know is this: T-Mobile and MetroPCS have exactly the same kinds of spectrum. They both have PCS, and AWS. Both have nationwide AWS. T-Mobile has a fairly broad swathe of PCS with significant holes, while MetroPCS has a very, very, small PCS footprint, meaning it was a regional carrier until recently.

The combined company will probably have to give up a large portion of its spectrum as most coverage for most types of spectrum overlaps, that is, national AWS is national AWS, and most of MetroPCS's PCS is in areas where T-Mobile has coverage.

From what I've read, MetroPCS's network is relatively congested too, as you'd expect it to be (all of their plans are all-you-can-eat), which also means potential issues for T-Mobile customers if we're going to ultimately share our bandwidth with Metro users.

Ultimately, it's hard to see how it won't be ugly. I'm really unhappy with this.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541475)

If Metro's PCS voice spectrum is congested, and T-Mobile can show the FCC that they're actively using their own spectrum as well, I seriously doubt there's going to be any great push to force its divestiture unless some small regional carrier is looking *really* needy. I mean, who's the FCC going to make them sell it to? AT&T or Verizon? Please. Sprint doesn't really need more 1900MHz spectrum, doesn't want AWS spectrum, and couldn't afford to buy it anyway.

Remember, most of the merger-forced spectrum sales over the past 10 years have been *TO* T-Mobile, because they're the ones who've always been starving for 1900MHz spectrum.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541357)

> My only question is, will Metro go GSM?

No and yes. They'll "Go Canadian" and do what carriers in Canada did -- keep using circuit-switched CDMA for voice (since it's built out, a sunk cost, and already "there"), and new phones will default to HSPA+ & LTE for data (falling back to EVDO, 1xRTT, EDGE, and GPRS when HSPA+/LTE doesn't exist).

In ~2 years, they can start scaling back EVDO and reallocate spectrum to LTE and HSPA+. Another year or two past that, and they can eliminate EVDO entirely (keeping 1xRTT for the few stragglers who won't notice the difference anyway, since it can coexist with circuit-switched CDMA voice). They can consolidate cell sites and share trunk lines between CDMA & GSM voice, and gradually scale back CDMA voice/1xRTT to the minimum required for a single channel.

Put another way, the end of Metro CDMA will be like the end of the Roman Empire... there won't be a grand "flip the switch and shut it all down" day, so much as fading into irrelevance before parts start to just break and stay broken because nobody cares enough to fix them anymore. The amount of money it would cost to openly and officially shut down CDMA is more than it would cost to just make it moot going forward and progressively neglect it into oblivion, because the users who'll hang on to their old phones for 10 years won't notice the difference between EVDO and 1xRTT anyway.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year and a half ago | (#41542079)

I do agree with some of your comments, though the one thing I really like is the value plans with bring-your-own-device. I can still buy them from T-Mo, or from wherever I care to (and hopefully with stuff moving to LTE that will involve fewer compromises).

Not sure I'm excited by the merger though - I don't really see much gain for T-Mo customers.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41539813)

Get back to us when you are "as a person with intimate knowledge of the inner workings of both T-Mobile and MetroPCS, their business operations, network operations, relationships with regulatory bodies, future band and network plans, customer loads, network utilization distribution, and other parameters that are important and necessary to know when making an M&A proposal."

As a customer, your opinion means precisely zero.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (4, Insightful)

headbulb (534102) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539829)

What is your deal? I've seen you post this comment almost word for word on various other sites.

You've got some good points. But a lot of your argument doesn't seem to be about those points. Your argument seems to mostly have a emotional basis to it. As if you don't like the company/ies involved for whatever reason that you don't seem to be saying.

T-Mobile just has to maintain the cdma network for a little while. Years perhaps. Customer and hardware turnover will get customers onto hspa/lte compatible hardware. A lot of MetroPCS customers already have lte compatible devices. From the google search I see that it's hardware that's able to handle VoLTE. T-Mobile can make a push to improve the lte coverage and current MetroPCS hardware will be able to work without the cdma network. In the meantime they can continue to roam onto sprints network.

The maintenance of four different networks isn't really even a big deal. With the tower equipment that T-Mobile is using and deploying is capable of running all four with either a software update or very little hardware changes. I feel that you are also being a bit disingenuous with this argument since 2GSM UMTS/HSPA and LTE are in the 3gsm family and were designed to do handoffs with each other, cdma and lte were not so much.

As for the FCC requirements you don't actually know that the fcc is going to do that. The last few years it's been the two big dogs that have been making acquisitions. Those are different stories and I wouldn't use them as examples for a company the size of the new T-Mobile. If the new T-Mobile does indeed have to give up some spectrum we won't and don't know how much.

The technical issues you listed just don't seem to be that big of an issue. This is a business move. This is about combining two companies for the synergies. The real winner here is Deutsche Telekom. Which can sell off stock slowly from the newly formed company.

You're real reasons really show through when you decided to use that last sentence "This is a terrible, terrible, idea, and the people behind it are terrible, terrible, people." So again I ask. What's your deal?
 

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540041)

What is your deal? I've seen you post this comment almost word for word on various other sites.

Link?

I've commented upon this issue only on Slashdot, TmoNews, and Twitter. I have probably made the same points across multiple posts, but it's an outright fabrication to suggest the above comment was posted "almost word for word" anywhere else.

Your argument seems to mostly have a emotional basis to it. As if you don't like the company/ies involved for whatever reason that you don't seem to be saying.

Would it kill you to believe I'm against a merger for the reasons I gave?

This is the umpteenth fucking post here that's implied some kind of conspiracy behind my comments. Here's an idea: if you disagree with my points, explain why. Saying "Yes, you have some good points, but I think you're a poopyhead h4t3r" and lying about my posting record isn't helpful.

When AT&T announced their plan to buy T-Mobile, there was an influx of bizarre, illogical, posts promoting their support for this, claiming that the only way to "save" the "ailing" T-Mobile was to, uh, get rid of it and sell its customers and assets to AT&T. Since the MetroPCS announcement, I've seen the same pattern, people condemnatory about any criticism whatsoever of a deal that's objectively bad for consumers and who insist that the "ailing" T-Mobile must buy MetroPCS or else face oblivion.

What a load of crap. And as long as it's crap, and as something as consumer hostile as this is promoted, I'll criticise it. Because I'm not shilling.

But you might be.

Please cite sources on network technology (1)

rwade (131726) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540191)

The maintenance of four different networks isn't really even a big deal. With the tower equipment that T-Mobile is using and deploying is capable of running all four with either a software update or very little hardware changes. I feel that you are also being a bit disingenuous with this argument since 2GSM UMTS/HSPA and LTE are in the 3gsm family and were designed to do handoffs with each other, cdma and lte were not so much.

How do you know this? Please cite sources on how the "tower equipment T-Mobile is using and deploying is capable of running all four with either a software update or very little hardware changes." I am not doubting your assertion; in fact, I logged on here looking to see someone make exactly this assertion because I assumed that most cellular technology was very similar from the hardware dimension. Can you expand a little and point us to a link on this?

Re:Please cite sources on network technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41540281)

He can't, because he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Tower equipment is basically to the point of using software defined radios anymore - just like the phones. There is no special hardware required. It's all just DAC to a PA with filtering for their assigned spectrum. The difficulty in "upgrading" is developing firmware that can speak all languages, then qualifying it, and deploying it seamlessly OTA without disrupting the network.

Re:Please cite sources on network technology (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about a year and a half ago | (#41542381)

Most telecom equipment, including base stations, is modular.
I don't have much personal experience with wireless base stations but if it's anything like all the transport equipment and routers/switches between the tower and the Mobile Switching Center, adding different protocols may be as simple as slotting a new card and connecting it to a new antenna.

Mods on crack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41540261)

Note to mods: don't confuse length for insight. The parent comment is a multi-paragraph sliming of a merger critic, not an honest attempt to address criticisms of this merger. It should not be modded up.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41540129)

and you are an idiot.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540383)

And therein is the lie. Because the FCC hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, allowed a merger in recent history between a major carrier and a smaller one without imposing the requirement that substantial amounts of overlapping spectrum be disposed of.

How does spectrum overlap? AWS is sold in blocks geographically, the companies own specific frequencies in specific locations, there is no overlap.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541133)

In context, it overlaps if two operators have the same category of spectrum in the same market.

For example, both MetroPCS and T-Mobile have PCS spectrum in the 33403 zip code. So from the FCC's point of view, some of that spectrum is up for grabs unless T-Mobile can show a compelling case why it should keep all of it, and why it wouldn't be anti-competitive for it do so.

The biggest problem is with AWS. Both T-Mobile and MetroPCS have licenses for 100% of the USA, so T-Metro will almost certainly be required to divest itself of a huge chunk of it as a merger condition, based upon the way the FCC has ruled in the past.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541757)

Why would that be bad? Or good?

Mergers are a perfectly normal part of the business cycle: during a downturn ma ny smaller players die. Coming out of the downturn, mergers and aquisitions happen, until your down to 3 or so companies and companies have some pricing power again. As the economy improves you get new players, and the previously survivors tend to get sloppy and lazy and less competitive. Come the next downturn and wave of merges, it's often a very diferent set of 3 or so companies surviving. That's the great cycle of corporate life.

Beware the shills (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540431)

As you can see from the responses to my comment, there's a lot of people making bizarre claims about my motives in posting it. To make a few things clear:

1. I've been a T-Mobile customer since 2002. I've recommended them, repeatedly, online and off.

2. I've been a Slashdot poster for over a decade too. I've had articles accepted. I've joined in many conversations about a variety of topics and been, uh, forthright in my views. More forthright than above, actually.

3. So it should be f---ing obvious that my posting was a reflection of my personal opinions.

However, there's something else to consider. When the AT&T - T-Mobile merger talk was going on, a lot of posters to various forums posted supporting comments that were supportive to the point of absurdity. Mergers can help customers - for example, Voicestream (T-Mobile's predecessor) is itself the merger of numerous GSM networks. They merged because each was regional, and each provided GSM in a seperate region. There was, at the time, no national GSM network, completely undermining the entire point of a mobile phone service. And so they merged. The T-Mobile/AT&T one didn't have this advantage. It was clearly anti-consumer. Before the merger there would be four national networks. After: three. And that was it.

So there was no reason to post in favor. And what those who did post was stuff like "But T-Mobile will close if it doesn't merge!" (a complete lie, and of course, T-Mobile wouldn't exist if it did merge.)" or "T-Mobile will be so much better when it's part of AT&T!" (but it won't exist, so how can it be better?)

Likewise, while some of the responses to my comment have concentrated on the advantages to DT and MetroPCS's management and shareholders (and that's where the advantages are), a few are trying the same FUD that we saw in the prior discussion, except they're usually trying to imply it's me that's underhanded when they do.

So, here's what I think.

I think there's a strong chance that those claiming this is better for consumers, or pretending that T-Mobile has to do this because they're at death's door, are actually shills. I believe this because we've seen it before, because we saw it in connection with T-Mobile before, and it's simply reasonable to suggest that the same tactics would be used for both mergers, given many of the same people are involved.

I'm not saying everyone posting in favor of this crapfest are shills, I'm saying I think a lot of them probably are. T-Mobile wants the groundwork laid so that this will appear to have a lot of popular support.

Unless you're a DT or PCS shareholder, there's no reason to support this merger. None whatsoever. And while I know many will "cheer their team", and T-Mobile is, for many of us, "our team", it's simply hard to believe that so many would be in favor of something that clearly is going to put back much needed network improvements, and cause many more job losses. I think T-Mobile has employed the shills.

Re:Beware the shills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41541261)

A guy accused of being a shill accuses his accusers of being shills.

You're certainly not new here, sir. Well played.

Re:Beware the shills (3, Interesting)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541649)

> Unless you're a DT or PCS shareholder, there's no reason to support this merger. None whatsoever.

Unless, of course, you're a MetroPCS customer with late-model Android phone (like the Galaxy S3) whose underlying chipset is perfectly capable of HSPA+ (assuming its soldered-in RUIM can be induced to act enough like a real SIM card to make a GSM network happy... I'm pretty sure they CAN, if push comes to shove...).

THOSE customers will absolutely be dancing in the streets, because it might mean they might get to start using T-Mobile's 6-14mbps HSPA+ network for data a few months from now, instead of limping along at ~2mbps or less on MetroPCS's EVDO, or roaming at a painful crawl on Sprint's third-world single-digit-kbps EVDO (slower than data anywhere on earth besides maybe rural Haiti). From what I've heard, even Metro's LTE is slower than T-Mobile's HSPA+.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41541105)

I'm a Tmobile customer and welcome any chance of better coverage, bec

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541239)

Won't help. T-Mobile has nationwide spectrum already, but doesn't use all of it. MetroPCS's coverage map is mostly a subset of T-Mobile's and MetroPCS uses different, incompatible, network standards so you wouldn't even be able to roam on them even if you found an area where they don't overlap currently.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41543247)

Coverage is a strange issue these days. Yes, the coverage maps greatly overlap, and if you live in a forest, this wont' help a bit.

That said, if you're at the outskirts of New York and are sharing one cell with 1000 other people, and that tower now has another 20mbits of LTE coverage, then yes, it's a win for covering the same area in more Mbits if not increasing the area of coverage.

Said differently, if you don't count the parts of the map as "covered" if they only have crappy Edge speeds, then yes, coverage (the amount of land covered by an acceptable signal) will increase.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about a year and a half ago | (#41543597)

I think you have convinced me. I was divided about this, I am generally in favor of more companies, not fewer, but if it made TMO healthier and more able to survive... But it is sounding like it won't.

Re:As a T-Mobile customer, I'm opposed to this mer (1)

grocer (718489) | about a year and a half ago | (#41542255)

This isn't doing anything to LTE for T-Mobile...they got the bandwidth and the cash to do it when the AT&T merger failed to get past the FCC...there was a huge poison pill in that deal that gave T-Mobile $4 Billion in cash and bandwidth to compete with AT&T...once they roll over their towers to LTE (tentatively set for 2013), GSM, 3G T-Mobile, 3G AT&T (at faster speeds that on the AT&T network itself due to the nature of HSPA+), and LTE will be supported across the entire T-Mobile network.

For a company that is setting itself to become a major non-contract GSM provider, they don't give a rip about how locked your device is or isn't...that's just silly...they already have ad materials in NY (where they're re-farmed their network to be 3G AT&T compatible) showing if you bring your own iPhone you can save something like $1,000 over a two year contract even if you buy the device new.

They want to sell you a SIM card and a plan and bring your device...T-Mobile is now looking at how they can expand their customer base having gotten a shiny, new, AT&T-compatible network from AT&T for freeeeeeeeeeee.

what exactly is the point? (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41538901)

metroPCS is a prepaid carrier as far as i know. the customer base is there for the cheapest phones and the cheapest plans that are barely profitable. i was looking at them for my wife's 80 year old grandmother to get rid of her landline.

no family plans means these people will leave you for another carrier to save a penny

Re:what exactly is the point? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539013)

First of all, they're pretty much saying that they're going to keep the range of plans they already have, so if those people signed up for that carrier under the current plans, why would they leave after the merger?

Second, it looks like both T-Mobile and MetroPCS have family plans, so the "no family plans" part seems to be just plain wrong.

Re:what exactly is the point? (1)

afidel (530433) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539015)

Probably spectrum for LTE, plus prepaid is a growing market so not having a prepaid arm is probably a long-term losing proposition even if it reduces ARPU.

what AT&T needed (0)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about a year and a half ago | (#41538993)

what AT&T needed was some lobbyists in Washington to make an under-the-table deal with members of the commerce Dept in order for the AT&T / TMobil deal to be approved. This worked for Comcast and NBC Universal two years ago. Very unethical but that's how things work in Washington. The Meredith Attwell quit the Commerce Dept 6 months after the deal to become a highly-paid lobbyist for NBC Universal...not a coincidence.

Re:what AT&T needed (3, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539325)

You're seriously suggesting that AT&T [opensecrets.org], with their $4.5 million in contributions (20th largest) this election cycle and $31 million in lobbying (5th largest) in the last 2 years alone, doesn't know how to lobby effectively?

Re:what AT&T needed (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41539627)

You're seriously suggesting that AT&T [opensecrets.org], with their $4.5 million in contributions (20th largest) this election cycle and $31 million in lobbying (5th largest) in the last 2 years alone, doesn't know how to lobby effectively?

Yes. I mean, they lost, right? Clearly, they did not spend enough.

Re:what AT&T needed (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541815)

Maybe it's possible that politics isn't enitirely corrupt? I know it's fashionable to play the cynic on slashdot, and politicians and beaurocrats don't seem to make a habit of acting in the best interests of those they server, but still: that doesn't mean they never do so.

Combined spectrum is a good thing... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41539247)

I'm sorry to those folk on MetroPCS that have a "cool deal" that's just right for them, that may be swallowed up into "like but not quite matching" T-Mobile billing plans. I know this can be annoying.

That said, AT&T's problem (and reason for wanting to buy T-Mobile) was bandwidth starvation. The GSM carrirers are obligated to keep some spectrum on 2G, have a large base of phones on 3G, and desperately need LTE to meet their future bandwidth needs. So any spectrum they can buy/merge with while meeting their current obligations, can all be 4G. It's like an increase in discretionary spending, even a 25% increase in net income significantly improves your quality of life. In some places they'll have 50% more bandwidth than AT&T and 50% fewer customers. Even if you have to pay $5 a month more for your newly-mergered data plan, I think when you look over at another booth in the restaurant and see the occupant watching a pixelated 480x320 Netflix episode on his fabulous Retina Display... and your Nexus 7 wifi-linked to your phone is wall to wall sharp pixels, it will feel like win.

Re:Combined spectrum is a good thing... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540255)

Are you sure this will make any difference? They now have to support both CDMA and GSM, they can't just magically combine the two.

Maybe 10 years from now they can switch one of those off, but for the immediate future this won't mean additional bandwidth for anyone.

Re:Combined spectrum is a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41542467)

That's a logical argument, but not a reasonable one given the way the chips are stacked.

Spectrum is expensive. In the normal case a carrier hands a customer a new phone every two years. Speeding this up to 1 year has a cost, but it's a pre-payment on a cost you would bear anyway. So, in a 12 months's time Tmo can have handed their 11 million new customers a new handset and have CDMA behind them for an extra billion dollars "up-front" that they would have had to spend in 24 months anyway, and that the customers will ultimately pay for. Every month earlier that paid for the transition to take place is an earlier month where iPad/iPhone users, tired of their exhausted AT&T spectrum and unhappy with Verizion's rates, will pour over onto the fresh-squeaky-new 20Mhz (> 200 Mbits) of pure LTE on Tmo's new network.

Tmo is obligated to keep 2G and 3G around for foriegn GSM roamers. There is no legal requirement to keep CDMA alive. It will die as fast as they can kill it.

GSM and CDMA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41539425)

Forgive me if I don't have a very good understanding of cellular network tech, but how would this merger work? Tmobile is GSM whereas MetroPCS is CDMA.

Re:GSM and CDMA (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539705)

but how would this merger work? Tmobile is GSM whereas MetroPCS is CDMA

The same way Cingular's and AT&T's merger worked. Nope, don't understand it; pretty sure they didn't either. :p

Re:GSM and CDMA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41540329)

Or maybe like Sprint/Nextel's. In otherwords, just long enough for the CEO to take a fat bonus before stock dipping to near junk stock status.

They claim CDMA gone by 2015... (2)

rwade (131726) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540057)

I was wondering the same thing all yesterday when this popped up on the wire. In fact, I had a similar concern back a few years ago on the ATT-T-Mobile linkup. After all, although ATT and T-Mobile both use GSM, they use different frequencies to do so. T-Mobile phones will work on an ATT network and vice-versa for regular calls, texts, and slow data -- but not at 3G speeds. (For the record, that is now changing: T-Mobile is now doing some 3G on the 1900MHz band that is compatible with most phones, namely the iPhone. It used to do 3G on 1700MHz, which only phones sold by T-Mobile are configured to use. But that was not happening at the time. See this article [informationweek.com]).

Moving on: PC Mag reported [pcmag.com] on a presentation the two companies released indicating that the MetroPCS CDMA network will be largely turned-off and dismantled with all customers transitioned by 2015. The brief seems to claim that customers replace MetroPCS devices so quickly as it is, there won't be a difficult public relations situation:

This means that all existing MetroPCS users will need to get new phones by then, but that's likely to happen anyway, the companies noted. "Rapid handset turnover (60-65 percent per year) facilitates MetroPCS customer migration," the slides said. "MetroPCS customers [are] anticipated to be completely migrated by 2H 2015."

From what I have read about MetroPCS, most of its customers use cheap feature phones. The idea then is that they'll tire or break their cheap phones and T-Metro will be able to take advantage of that trend to shift them over to equally cheap GSM phones to run on the legacy T-Mobile network. There are certainly a share of customers that use more expensive phones that they expected when they purchased them to be more durable and last longer than 2015 -- I would suggest that that number is small given the focus of MetroPCS on those that want what is now considered to be bare minimum for cell phone service. (talk/text/30MB BREW/WAP web).

All of this said, I will note that when AT&T/Cingular acquired Alltel, Alltel also used CDMA. I don't know how AT&T was able to make that acquisition work, but they did manage to do so -- T-Metro looks to be pursuing this transaction with a page out of that playbook.

Re:They claim CDMA gone by 2015... (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541981)

AFAIK, AT&T acquired Alltel spectrum, but Verizon acquired Alltel's customers, who were able to use Verizon's network without problems. There might have been a few oddball areas, but AFAIK, for Alltel customers, the change involved little more than new billing statements and a PRL update.

MOD UP Parent (1)

rwade (131726) | about a year and a half ago | (#41542067)

MOD UP -- lots of people defend T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger by citing ATT/Alltel, but this key qualifying detail isn't easily found. Thanks!

Re:GSM and CDMA (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541917)

> how would this merger work? Tmobile is GSM whereas MetroPCS is CDMA.

The difference isn't as big as you think.

The difference between legacy TDMA-based 2G GSM/GPRS/EDGE and WCDMA-based 3G UMTS/HSPA+ is HUGE. Night and day. Literally, nothing in common besides a subset of the SIM card and the battery.

The difference between CDMA2000 voice/1xRTT data and EVDO is almost as big as the difference between 2G GSM and 3G UMTS/HSPA+.

The difference between CDMA2000 voice/1xRTT data and UMTS/HSPA+ is basically the presence of a SIM card, wider channels, and some evolutionary refinements. A tri-band (1700/1900/2100MHz) phone that does "everything" would cost about the same to make as a HSPA-only or CDMA2000-only phone that has to support 850 and 1900Mhz. Mode support is mainly a matter of IP licensing and firmware. What really drives up the cost is having to support 5 or more bands spread across the upper UHF and lower microwave spectrum.

Food for thought: the ONLY thing that prevents an AT&T iPhone 4S or Galaxy S2/S3 from working on Sprint or Verizon is radio firmware, FCC certification, and business policy. Google MDM6600 or MSM8960 sometime, or just read THIS [qualcomm.com] for some gory details.

I don't think they could offer WORSE coverage... (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41539469)

Being as I drive through two dead spots on my way home from work, and drop calls while sitting on my couch (where their map claims I should get two bars), I'm pretty sure the coverage can't get much worse. I laugh at people who bitch about lack of 3G/4G/29G ... I can't even get a signal for a voice call.

We need to do SOMETHING (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year and a half ago | (#41540239)

Because right now, coverage disparities allow some companies to charge through the roof (Verizon) with impunity. I'm no fan of T-Mobile, but as long as there are such massive differences in coverage, speed, and reliability, Verizon (and AT&T hilariously) will continue to gouge customers.

Re:We need to do SOMETHING (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41541969)

I think that's why we need to root for T-Mobile to succeed - not in reference to this merger, but in general. They're the only significantly-sized company to offer cell plans that undercut the offerings of the Big Two. I know doing so is a business decision on their part, and not being done out of the goodness of their heart, but - there needs to be downward pressure kept on this market because, overall, current prices are absurd.

New Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41540739)

Doo-doo Merging with Crap
ftfy

Good Marriage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41545303)

My wife is with MetroPCS and I am with T-Mobile, we are very happy, I think they will be happy too.

Why I left T-Mobile (today) (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41545333)

I was a US T-Mobile customer for 3+ years, ending today. Of course the nice operator asked why, and here's what I told her:
1. Better deal. $40/month unlimited everything with SimpleMobile, compared to ~$75. I bought a new, mid-range Samsung smartphone for dirt cheap, and can use my old-ass T-Mobile G1 as an emergency backup. Ol' Saint Nick will probably help me upgrade again.
2. Spotty coverage. T-Mobile works fine for me at home, but has presented coverage problems when travelling. (SimpleMobile doesn't necessarily fix this, due to their reliance on TM's network)
3. No 4G LTE now, and not coming any time soon to my area. (No, I won't have that either, but at least I also won't be paying for it)
4. Flexibility. I am now month-to-month, and will be as long as I stick with my new company. Something better comes along? Something bad happens? Get a serious hankering for the new whatever that just came out Easy switch.
5. Device selection is substandard. STILL no iPhone, and not getting it (which is okay with me), but fewer available phones and smallish user base means less choice for used phones, if I need to go that route again.
6. Customer support has gone from top-notch when I signed up to long wait times, multiple transfers for simple issues, and a voice response system that is great at helping you pay your bill and little else. The US-based folks are still very friendly and eager to help, but it seems their hands are tied, once you can get ahold of them.
7. I don't like the looks of the MetroPCS merger. Both companies are struggling, and this mini consolidation doesn't look like the answer.
8. Rebates and incentives on new devices sometimes favor new customers above loyal customers, even once old contracts have already expired. They couldn't explain to me why the price of a new, shiny model is more for me, over a year after my contract expired, than for new customers. But they confirmed that it is true.
So it's time to cut bait and move on.... sort of.

Re:Why I left T-Mobile (today) (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41545373)

BTW, since SimpleMobile is a prepaid service (like Smart Talk, Virgin and some others, none of which I'm trying to promote), the price is the price, unlike with the traditional carriers (including TM), with whom the stated price does not include taxes or any fees that they choose to pass on to the customer. So while T-Mobile has some new pricing options if you bring your own phone I think there are still cheaper viable alternatives.

Re:Why I left T-Mobile (today) (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year and a half ago | (#41546145)

You realize you could have gotten a prepaid plan with T-Mobile with unlimited data and text for just $30 a month, right? Sure, it only comes with 100 minutes of talk, but do you actually talk on the phone that much? (I dunno, maybe you do, i certainly don't though.)

And given that Simple Mobile is just a T-Mobile MVNO reseller, if you actually think T-Mobile is struggling and merging with MetroPCS isn't going to save them, then switching over to Simple Mobile may not help you much.

As for #8, you're doing something wrong. T-Mobile was happy to offer me special deals for signing a contract with them even though i'm a current customer. I keep saying no of course, because i like not being tied down. Of course given that going by #4 you like the idea of not being tied down by a contract i don't see why you care whether or not T-Mobile will give you a discount for signing a contract or not.
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