Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Sep 2011 21:57 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless In the US wireless market, AT&T is currently attempting to buy T-Mobile to create one heck of a behemoth wireless provider. While earlier this week the US government already filed a lawsuit to block the merger, citing antitrust concerns, US carrier Sprint has now also filed a lawsuit to block the merger.
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So ...
by WorknMan on Tue 6th Sep 2011 23:41 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

Last I heard, T-mobile was bleeding subscribers. That being the case, what happens if the merger doesn't go thru, and T-mobile goes belly-up? Will we be any better off?

Reply Score: 2

RE: So ...
by robojerk on Tue 6th Sep 2011 23:45 UTC in reply to "So ..."
robojerk Member since:
2006-01-10

If T-Mobile had to be bought, I'd rather Sprint buy them.

A triopoly is better than a duopoloy. We're already getting screwed.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: So ...
by kaiwai on Wed 7th Sep 2011 06:33 UTC in reply to "RE: So ..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

If T-Mobile had to be bought, I'd rather Sprint buy them.

A triopoly is better than a duopoloy. We're already getting screwed.


It won't matter a single iota until there is a banning of locked phones and you can purchase then outside of the wall garden that the mobile phone companies operate inside the United States. It truly is amazing when I see how the mobile phone companies operate in the US; if they're not raping you by charging the receiving party for a phone call or text message they're turning around and locking off your ability to purchase a phone on the market and then select the carrier with the two choices being independent of each other.

Good lord, don't get me started on coverage - the last thing the US needs is an even more fragmented marketplace. Like I've said, looking at the US is like watching New Zealand and Australia from 15 years ago - its a really bad joke but the average American on this forum thinks (to quote George Carlin) "everything is fine and f-cking dandy!".

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: So ...
by Fennec_Fox on Wed 7th Sep 2011 19:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So ..."
Fennec_Fox Member since:
2006-10-30

... raping you by charging the receiving party for a phone call or text message...


And this would probably be the most glaring example of customer abuse by mobile service providers in North America. Coming from EU, and walking into the store in Canada to get a cell phone, this to me was the biggest shocker... That, and how laughingly small the "home zone" is, beyond which you are being slapped with hefty roaming charges...

Of course you *can* theoretically get a plan with "free" roaming, incoming texts and calls... But the price of such a plan would be heart-attack inducing...

BTW, in Canada we have it even worse - we have only three major telecom suppliers, also in a "lightly regulated" market... To give you an idea how badly Canadians are being raped, and mega-profits telcos are raking in - one of them, Rogers, has just applied with the government to start their own Chartered Bank...

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: So ...
by darknexus on Wed 7th Sep 2011 20:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So ..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

It won't matter a single iota until there is a banning of locked phones and you can purchase then outside of the wall garden that the mobile phone companies operate inside the United States.


This is why having more than one option for a GSM carrier is important in this country. I can easily get unlocked GSM phones, and good ones at that. Unlocked phones are not by any means illegal here. True, they're not subsidized, but that's okay by me since it also means the carrier can't try to force me into a ridiculously-priced plan just because I have a certain phone (iPhone plans, anyone?). An added benefit is that I'm not forced to buy a phone loaded down with carrier bloatware.
The trouble with the non-GSM carriers here is twofold. First, they do not use SIM cards, not because CDMA can't have sims but because it's a way for them to lock you in. More importantly though, the two CDMA providers (Verizon and Sprint) use a completely different CDMA frequency and I don't know of any CDMA phone on the market that will handle both. Even if you could get an unlocked CDMA phone, therefore, you're still going to be stuck with only one carrier that'll work with the phone you've bought. In our fucked up CDMA arena, it wouldn't make one bit of difference if we could buy unlocked devices or not, except for allowing you to buy phones with out carrier crapware.
It truly is amazing when I see how the mobile phone companies operate in the US; if they're not raping you by charging the receiving party for a phone call or text message


Yeah, although some of them are finally beginning to drop that. None of the major nation-wide ones, sadly.

they're turning around and locking off your ability to purchase a phone on the market and then select the carrier with the two choices being independent of each other.

If you're referring to the iPhone, you can blame Apple for that. No one held a gun to their corporate collective head and forced them to give AT&T exclusivity, and there's nothing stopping them from selling them unlocked now that said agreement is over. They still choose not to though. It doesn't make sense to me, but I suppose that's why I'm not a corporate bigwig and never want to be.

Good lord, don't get me started on coverage - the last thing the US needs is an even more fragmented marketplace. Like I've said, looking at the US is like watching New Zealand and Australia from 15 years ago - its a really bad joke but the average American on this forum thinks (to quote George Carlin) "everything is fine and f-cking dandy!".


Um, they do? I don't think most of the Americans on this forum thing anything's fine and dandy about this. Now, the average non-technically-inclined American that's been dumbed down by tv is quite another story, but something tells me that you won't find many of those morons here. Be careful not to stereotype too much. That's just what we "average Americans" get accused of doing, after all. ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: So ...
by kaiwai on Thu 8th Sep 2011 03:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: So ..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

This is why having more than one option for a GSM carrier is important in this country. I can easily get unlocked GSM phones, and good ones at that. Unlocked phones are not by any means illegal here. True, they're not subsidized, but that's okay by me since it also means the carrier can't try to force me into a ridiculously-priced plan just because I have a certain phone (iPhone plans, anyone?). An added benefit is that I'm not forced to buy a phone loaded down with carrier bloatware.


You can get subsidised phones here in NZ which are unlocked but you're signed into a contract meaning until you get out of that contract you'll have to keep paying for the service (even if you remove the SIM and use another carrier). Many times you'll see carriers go "bring your phone to our service and we'll give you a $200 credit". I know in the case of Vodafone I got a $150 credit on my account when bought a phone full price and then signed up for a contract.

The problem is carriers in the US are trying to claim that unless they lock the phones they'll have to charge full price (thus 'consumers lose' - yes they do actually use that argument when there is a inquiry by the US government into the mobile phone market) which is a load of crap - if you want to offer subsidises on phones you do it via contract with the only real 'losers' are people who want prepaid (but even then prepaid phones in NZ sit around $100 for a middle of the road cheap phone).

The trouble with the non-GSM carriers here is twofold. First, they do not use SIM cards, not because CDMA can't have sims but because it's a way for them to lock you in. More importantly though, the two CDMA providers (Verizon and Sprint) use a completely different CDMA frequency and I don't know of any CDMA phone on the market that will handle both. Even if you could get an unlocked CDMA phone, therefore, you're still going to be stuck with only one carrier that'll work with the phone you've bought. In our fucked up CDMA arena, it wouldn't make one bit of difference if we could buy unlocked devices or not, except for allowing you to buy phones with out carrier crapware.


Even so there is the issue of frequency in the case of GSM where in NZ we have two WCDMA vendors, Vodafone operates on the 900/2100 and Telecom NZ on 850/2100 - there needs to be a law that forces mobile handset vendors to support minimum of x number of frequencies if they're to be sold in a particular country and maybe go one step further and also demand that these handset vendor sell directly to consumers unsubsidised unbranded versions of their phones so that there is choice beyond having to go into a retail shop.

Yeah, although some of them are finally beginning to drop that. None of the major nation-wide ones, sadly.


It always amazes me how these carriers could get away for it for so long - I remember back in the day when I was paying $1.90 per minute through BellSouth NZ (before it was bought out by Vodafone) then gradually over several years of competition the price got below a dollar.

If you're referring to the iPhone, you can blame Apple for that. No one held a gun to their corporate collective head and forced them to give AT&T exclusivity, and there's nothing stopping them from selling them unlocked now that said agreement is over. They still choose not to though. It doesn't make sense to me, but I suppose that's why I'm not a corporate bigwig and never want to be.


It is strange given that in New Zealand I can purchase the iPhone directly from Apple (or one of the many Apple resellers), got to Telecom (Vodafone is Apple's official launch partner in NZ and Australia) and purchase one of those micro-sim's without too many hassles. Why was there this arrangement with AT&T? I have a feeling that it has to do more with Americans used to having heavily subsidised phones (and unwillingness to pay full price for phones) and carriers unwilling to subsidise the phones unless it is exclusive to their network. In a perfect world carriers would compete on who has the best service rather than holding customers hostage to, "well, if you really want that phone you only have one option".

Um, they do? I don't think most of the Americans on this forum thing anything's fine and dandy about this. Now, the average non-technically-inclined American that's been dumbed down by tv is quite another story, but something tells me that you won't find many of those morons here. Be careful not to stereotype too much. That's just what we "average Americans" get accused of doing, after all. ;)


True but at the same time though the status quo has been this way for many decades with no ground swell of movement by the masses to demanding a real competitive marketplace rather than the entrenched network of walled gardens where people are sucked in by subsidised handsets then raped without mercy by the carrier with crappy service and high fees to leave. I know one shouldn't stereotype but my stereotype was based on Joe and Jane Sixpack on main street rather than the technologically savvy people on this forum.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: So ...
by darknexus on Thu 8th Sep 2011 11:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: So ..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

You can get subsidised phones here in NZ which are unlocked but you're signed into a contract meaning until you get out of that contract you'll have to keep paying for the service (even if you remove the SIM and use another carrier). Many times you'll see carriers go "bring your phone to our service and we'll give you a $200 credit". I know in the case of Vodafone I got a $150 credit on my account when bought a phone full price and then signed up for a contract.


Okay, that's awesome. Are they able to force you into a specific plan if you want them to subsidize it?

The problem is carriers in the US are trying to claim that unless they lock the phones they'll have to charge full price (thus 'consumers lose' - yes they do actually use that argument when there is a inquiry by the US government into the mobile phone market) which is a load of crap - if you want to offer subsidises on phones you do it via contract with the only real 'losers' are people who want prepaid (but even then prepaid phones in NZ sit around $100 for a middle of the road cheap phone).


What really sucks about this is the fact that, even if you don't buy your phone from the carrier and it's not subsidized, if you want service on any of the major carriers you have to sign into at least a two year contract anyway. Personally, I hate contracts. My view is that if you're so certain of the awesomeness of your service, you don't need to hold me hostage. Of course, all the cel carriers hear suck giant hairy donkey balls, and they're probably not as confident about their service as they claim.

Even so there is the issue of frequency in the case of GSM where in NZ we have two WCDMA vendors, Vodafone operates on the 900/2100 and Telecom NZ on 850/2100 - there needs to be a law that forces mobile handset vendors to support minimum of x number of frequencies if they're to be sold in a particular country and maybe go one step further and also demand that these handset vendor sell directly to consumers unsubsidised unbranded versions of their phones so that there is choice beyond having to go into a retail shop.


Not a bad idea. The reason I brought it up with CDMA though is that I've not found any CDMA phone that supports both sets of frequencies, where as I can think of several GSM phones off the top of my head that are true quad-band GSM/WCDMA/HSDPA and will fully work on any carrier regardless of the frequency set it uses.

It always amazes me how these carriers could get away for it for so long - I remember back in the day when I was paying $1.90 per minute through BellSouth NZ (before it was bought out by Vodafone) then gradually over several years of competition the price got below a dollar.


No argument from me. The cel market hasn't benefitted from competition in the same way that our land line market did. I think the only reason they do get away with it is that most of the average joe's in this country think the world ends outside our boarders and have no idea how much they're getting gangraped as compared to other countries. I've asked people why they're willing to pay so much and their answers are usually along the lines of "Well, that's just how it's always been." The really fucked up thing is that people have become so phone-obsessed lately that they'll sacrifice actual necessities to have the latest smartphones when they don't need them. You don't need a smartphone if all you do is call and text, but people get them for the shiny factor and I'm not just referring to iPhones either. Before you ask, I do use a smartphone, but then again I do a lot more than call and text with it.

It is strange given that in New Zealand I can purchase the iPhone directly from Apple (or one of the many Apple resellers), got to Telecom (Vodafone is Apple's official launch partner in NZ and Australia) and purchase one of those micro-sim's without too many hassles. Why was there this arrangement with AT&T? I have a feeling that it has to do more with Americans used to having heavily subsidised phones (and unwillingness to pay full price for phones) and carriers unwilling to subsidise the phones unless it is exclusive to their network. In a perfect world carriers would compete on who has the best service rather than holding customers hostage to, "well, if you really want that phone you only have one option".


Honestly, I suspect that Apple didn't really know what to do when entering this market. They were new to it, they just wanted to get their product out there, and AT&T was the only carrier that would let Apple have their way as far as the software (no custom firmware images, etc). What does an unlocked iPhone cost over there? To get one imported here (a true factory unlock, not a jailbreak/ultrasn0w unlock) usually will run you at least $800 USD for the current generation which, even at Apple prices, is way too much for a smartphone, especially one that isn't top of the line. Further, if you do import it, you'll get no warranty on it. As I said, I've no idea why Apple won't just sell the things directly now that their agreement has expired. As far as I know, there's nothing stopping them. Then again, most of Apple's decisions these days have left me wondering if they don't have some drunken monkeys on the board.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: So ...
by kaiwai on Fri 9th Sep 2011 07:00 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: So ..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Okay, that's awesome. Are they able to force you into a specific plan if you want them to subsidize it?


The amount you receive in subsidies relates to the length of the contract and the plan that you're on - for example if you sign up for a 24 month plan at $60 per month your subsidy will be higher than someone on a contract for 12months at $20 per month. IIRC the most Vodafone did as a subsidy was $200 - so it depends on how much freedom you're willing to give up.

What really sucks about this is the fact that, even if you don't buy your phone from the carrier and it's not subsidized, if you want service on any of the major carriers you have to sign into at least a two year contract anyway. Personally, I hate contracts. My view is that if you're so certain of the awesomeness of your service, you don't need to hold me hostage. Of course, all the cel carriers hear suck giant hairy donkey balls, and they're probably not as confident about their service as they claim.


For me I purchased an iPhone outright from Apple then put it on prepaid - I've done contract a couple of times and my usage was so sporadic that it made having a contract a little pointless. If they had a 'year contract' where there was minutes and data over a whole year rather than month by month then it might work for me since some months I use it heavily then other months I barely use it.

Not a bad idea. The reason I brought it up with CDMA though is that I've not found any CDMA phone that supports both sets of frequencies, where as I can think of several GSM phones off the top of my head that are true quad-band GSM/WCDMA/HSDPA and will fully work on any carrier regardless of the frequency set it uses.


Many vendors offer quad frequency band phones already so it would be just a matter of adding more support but I have a feeling there will be outrage by handset vendors as the current status quo allows segmentation of their product line - if you want to move from one carrier to another ka-ching! a new phone is needed to support xyz's frequencies rather than just a simple replacement of a SIM. The situation with LTE isn't looking much better as Verizon and AT&T have said their networks will not be compatible - that is, end users able to grab a phone chuck in a SIM from their chosen carrier and hit the ground running.

Times like this is when government need to intervene and say, "all you LTE vendors need to be on the same page using the same technology and allow people to purchase phones independent of carriers and be able to purchase a SIM without a hefty contract.

No argument from me. The cel market hasn't benefitted from competition in the same way that our land line market did. I think the only reason they do get away with it is that most of the average joe's in this country think the world ends outside our boarders and have no idea how much they're getting gangraped as compared to other countries. I've asked people why they're willing to pay so much and their answers are usually along the lines of "Well, that's just how it's always been." The really fucked up thing is that people have become so phone-obsessed lately that they'll sacrifice actual necessities to have the latest smartphones when they don't need them. You don't need a smartphone if all you do is call and text, but people get them for the shiny factor and I'm not just referring to iPhones either. Before you ask, I do use a smartphone, but then again I do a lot more than call and text with it.


I've seen it here in NZ - people spending thousands on the latest gadgets but don't have the money to provide a decent lunch or a rain coat for their kid. We live in a strange time where people have warped priorities.

Honestly, I suspect that Apple didn't really know what to do when entering this market. They were new to it, they just wanted to get their product out there, and AT&T was the only carrier that would let Apple have their way as far as the software (no custom firmware images, etc). What does an unlocked iPhone cost over there? To get one imported here (a true factory unlock, not a jailbreak/ultrasn0w unlock) usually will run you at least $800 USD for the current generation which, even at Apple prices, is way too much for a smartphone, especially one that isn't top of the line. Further, if you do import it, you'll get no warranty on it. As I said, I've no idea why Apple won't just sell the things directly now that their agreement has expired. As far as I know, there's nothing stopping them. Then again, most of Apple's decisions these days have left me wondering if they don't have some drunken monkeys on the board.


See the strange thing is in NZ Telecom and Vodafone doesn't very little branding to their phones - besides the splash screen and a few address book entries the phones are pretty much kept vanilla. I really have to wonder to what benefit these carriers have wasting so much money on branding their phones when they could scrap that whole idea, save the money and sell the end user a phone without all the bullshit.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: So ...
by tidux on Thu 8th Sep 2011 14:28 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: So ..."
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

The problem is that with the decline of our education system and the anti-intellectual tendencies of a good 45% of the country, people just don't understand how badly they're getting taken advantage of. Personally, I have the shell of an idea for a bill to fix this at a federal level (by sending it to one of my senators, who's still a decent person).

My name for it is the Fairness In Telephony (FIT) Act, because everything has to have a catchy name these days. Here's the basics:

1. require all cellular telephone companies to have a single protocol and frequency set, ideally GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA/LTE on the standard GSM quad-band frequencies

2. ban roaming fees for any possible use of the phone, including but not limited to voice, sms, mms, and data

3. given that cellular devices are the primary internet connection for some households, mandate the presence of a completely unlimited, unthrottled everything plan, for at most $80 per month in 2011 dollars - Sprint's already doing this and still turning a profit, so there's proof that it can be done

4. ban carrier-locked phones

5. ban locked bootloaders and phones that need to be cracked to give admin/root access - there's no good reason, since the dumb users won't mess with it anyways and it makes us hackers happy, but the telcos have demanded the locked-down phones anyways

Basically, if they're going to act like an oligopoly, force interoperability and user freedom. I'd throw in a bit about requiring all phone OSes to be Free Software, but that's just not going to happen in this climate.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: So ...
by kaiwai on Sat 10th Sep 2011 09:25 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: So ..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Regarding 3 and 4; when it comes to bootloaders etc. I'd go one step further and mandate that all phones ranges can be only differentiated by hardware not by operating system - in other words you have the same hardware across a whole range but either Windows Phone 7 or Android offered. I would then go one step further and allow the end user to change operating systems by paying a nominal about (say $10-$20) to move from one operating system to another. There is no logical reason why a phone cannot have its operating system changed - if I am unhappy with Android why can't I just purchase a copy of Windows Phone 7 and replace Android with it? We do it with computers right now so why I can't I do it with my phone operating system?

Regarding the issue of unlimited - the problem is that there is a limited amount of spectrum and capacity thus you would end up with flooded mobile phone towers which are then compounded further by the cost of putting up new towers cost almost as much as the tower itself (ignoring all the moronic luddites who think their brains will be fried by a tower close to their home/workplace/ashram/etc.). What is the biggest problem in the US is the differentiation of smart phone data from data using a 3G stick - why do they do that? because they offer high amounts of data on smart phone plans because customers will never reach it but castrate the 3G device users because they know that they'll more likely to reach their limit. In New Zealand the data isn't cheap but you pay a flat rate and the carrier doesn't give two hoots how you use it - if you want to tether it then go ahead, want to just browse on your phone then all power to you. For example I am on a prepaid plan where I pay NZ$25 (US$20) per month for 500MB - I can tether my iPhone to my computer if I want, I can surf the net and stream to my hearts content because at the end of the day I've paid for my data and that is all the carrier should care about.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: So ...
by dcbw on Fri 9th Sep 2011 00:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: So ..."
dcbw Member since:
2006-08-31

More importantly though, the two CDMA providers (Verizon and Sprint) use a completely different CDMA frequency and I don't know of any CDMA phone on the market that will handle both.


Wrong. All CDMA phones on sale in the United States (and likely Canada) support both 850MHz and 1900MHz which Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular and others use. Only a few phones support the 1700MHz (AWS) CDMA frequency that Cricket uses, but those phones also support 850MHz and 1900MHz.

Sprint almost exclusively runs CDMA 1x and EVDO on 1900MHz, while Verizon runs CDMA 1x on 850MHz and 1900 MHz, and EVDO almost exclusively on 1900MHz. US Cellular is mostly an 850MHz carrier with some 1900MHz spectrum. Every CDMA phone sold in the US has support for both frequencies.

All CDMA phones in the US are capable of roaming between Sprint and Verizon and US Cellular. It's only inter-provider agreements (and the Preferred Roaming Lists built into each CDMA handset) that limit roaming. It has nothing to do with radio frequency limitations.

Reply Score: 1

RE[9]: "Long term" matters
by zima on Tue 13th Sep 2011 23:54 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So ..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

don't get me started on coverage ... its a really bad joke but the average American on this forum thinks (to quote George Carlin) "everything is fine and f-cking dandy!".

The saddest part is all the mind-twisting to justify it... say, that Europe is supposedly ahead in infrastructure cycles thanks to WW2 (as if whole continent was levelled, as if a solid telephone network was the first priority when repairing all the destruction, as if every place didn't need to upgrade recently most of core equipment numerous times to stay in the game). Or insisting that rural levels of the US are comparable to... sub-Saharan Africa (I kid you not), ignoring that suburban sprawl is a matter of choice (which does impact local, interchange-level operations), imagining Europe as some sort of continent-wide urbanized area with half an hour from a random major agglomeration (me, living in the very centre of Europe, I have an hour to anything of note, and 5+ hours to all of nearest three major agglomerations; two of which are in different countries, with loosely connected infrastructures and weak benefits of "radiating" them; with even some quite sparsely inhabited primordial forests and swamps in-between)

...and always ignoring that the "big three" Nordic countries have population densities (all that matters in the end, how many people pay for each proportional part of infrastructure) significantly below that of the US.

PS. One very minor thing, not warranting a separate reply, in one of your other nearby posts...
I've seen it here in NZ - people spending thousands on the latest gadgets but don't have the money to provide a decent lunch or a rain coat for their kid. We live in a strange time where people have warped priorities.

I don't think that's really the case, I don't think that's fair. The past wasn't really better, we just don't have memories of it. "Good old times" is a myth known, in written forms, since the antiquity.
People were starving much more often in the past. And look at all the ornamental folklore artefacts, very valued and cherished now ...but, really, primarily made to look "fancy" (at the time) and, worse, typically very labour intensive.

Edited 2011-09-14 00:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Wrong technology
by wocowboy on Wed 7th Sep 2011 10:32 UTC in reply to "RE: So ..."
wocowboy Member since:
2006-06-01

Sprint uses CDMA technology, a whole different animal than GSM which T-Mobile uses. Sprint would have to change out all the equipment from every T-Mobile cell site at an astronomical cost,and they are not about to do that after the debacle of trying to integrate Nextel into their network that they went through several years ago. It just couldn't e done, and Nextel is just like a vestigial appendage that Sprint can't really use but has to keep around because a very few customers really have to have.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Wrong technology
by robojerk on Wed 7th Sep 2011 16:31 UTC in reply to "Wrong technology"
robojerk Member since:
2006-01-10

I don't know, aren't both planning to deploy LTE networks for their 4G networks?

Reply Score: 3

RE: So ...
by metalf8801 on Wed 7th Sep 2011 03:26 UTC in reply to "So ..."
metalf8801 Member since:
2010-03-22

"If the deal gets squelched, the carrier will pay T-Mobile a $3 billion break-up fee."
http://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethwoyke/2011/03/20/analyst-enorm...

Reply Score: 2

RE: So ...
by Morgan on Wed 7th Sep 2011 05:53 UTC in reply to "So ..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I think there's a pretty good chance the deal will not come to be. AT&T doesn't want that of course; they'd rather pay the $39 billion and get rid of a competitor than pay the $3 billion plus spectrum and towers, and get nothing. But I can actually say I'm proud of my government for this! I just hope they maintain their position all the way through.


(What follows is my own personal situation and feelings towards the merger, so feel free to ignore if you feel that it would be off-topic.)


I'm biding my time. If the deal goes through despite the lawsuits, I will leave T-Mobile/AT&T and go with either Verizon or Virgin Mobile. That's going to royally suck, as right now I have a family member and a friend on my account and they would each have to take over the contracts (which would then be AT&T and neither of them want that). I left AT&T because their formerly wonderful customer service (was a Premier customer for many years) started tanking around the end of 2009.

It also sucks because that would make AT&T the only major GSM carrier, and certainly the only one in my area, on the outskirts of Atlanta. That means giving up my very nice phone that just got a Gingerbread update from the carrier. T-Mobile has a strong presence here, much more than in other metro areas apart from San Francisco and New York City, and with the bleeding of customers you mentioned (yes it's happening) I'm starting to feel alone.

I loathe Verizon, but to get anywhere near the plan and phone I have now would require it. Virgin Mobile is my backup, as they carry decent Android phones and as little as I talk, the $35/month plan with unlimited data/text and 300 minutes would be more than enough. I find I talk maybe 100 minutes a month, and if I have to make a long-term call from home I would just use my Bluetooth headset on my laptop with Google Voice. However, they are really Sprint, and the only thing I don't like about them is really spotty coverage in my area. Look on their coverage map and you will see large swaths of dead air all over North Georgia.

Now, there is always the possibility that the deal won't go through, in which case I'll stick with T-Mobile...for now. If their level of customer service continues to drop or their prices continue to rise, I might jump ship anyway. I would hate that, as T-Mobile is the first carrier I've really enjoyed since the Cingular days.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by robojerk
by robojerk on Tue 6th Sep 2011 23:43 UTC
robojerk
Member since:
2006-01-10

"Technically", we have more than 4
<a url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_network_operators_of_th... of mobile operators in USA

"Boost Mobile" and "Virgin Mobile USA" appear to use Sprint's 3G network.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by robojerk
by vodoomoth on Wed 7th Sep 2011 07:59 UTC in reply to "Comment by robojerk"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

Yes but Thom was referring to nation-wide mobile carriers.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by robojerk
by wocowboy on Wed 7th Sep 2011 10:29 UTC in reply to "Comment by robojerk"
wocowboy Member since:
2006-06-01

There are a lot more providers in the U.S. than the ones on that list. I can think of several variations of the CellularOne brand operating in various parts of the country, and Pioneer Cellular which operates in the middle of the country, to name just two. They are regional-based providers but they usually have roaming agreements that provide better "nationwide" coverage than some of the majors do.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by robojerk
by supergear on Wed 7th Sep 2011 21:22 UTC in reply to "Comment by robojerk"
supergear Member since:
2007-07-06

Boost Mobile and Virgin are owned by Sprint

Reply Score: 3

Regional companies
by jack_perry on Wed 7th Sep 2011 00:11 UTC
jack_perry
Member since:
2005-07-06

I find it amazing that the large American wireless market only has four nationwide players. ...how on earth does a huge market like the US cope?


Loads and loads of regional players (Cellular South, for example), and lots of prepaid players (TracFone, a subsidiary of a Mexican company).

Reply Score: 2

RE: Regional companies
by dsmogor on Wed 7th Sep 2011 09:24 UTC in reply to "Regional companies"
dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

Then, the only thing the Govt should do is to regulate max roaming fees not unlike EU have done and the lack of nationwides becomes a nonissue.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Regional companies
by Yoko_T on Wed 7th Sep 2011 09:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Regional companies"
Yoko_T Member since:
2011-08-18

Then, the only thing the Govt should do is to regulate max roaming fees not unlike EU have done and the lack of nationwides becomes a nonissue.


??? My Tracfone has 0 roaming fees...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Regional companies
by wocowboy on Wed 7th Sep 2011 10:39 UTC in reply to "Regional companies"
wocowboy Member since:
2006-06-01

The 4 major companies refuse to provide service outside the major metropolitan areas, saying they are not profitable, not enough customers, etc, blah blah. But judging from the number of regional companies that have stepped up and made the investment to provide service in those areas, that rationale has proven to be completely untrue. Virtually the entire land area is covered by these regional providers, but the problem is in the patchwork of roaming agreements between them and the majors. Most are extremely one-sided or only allow voice and text roaming, no internet or data service at all despite both companies having 3G or LTE in the covered areas. This requires people who don't live in the major cities to usually have to have two phones; one to use in the big city that will work on 3G or 4G/LTE and one to use at their small town on its 3G system.

Reply Score: 2

How does the US market cope?
by Kalessin on Wed 7th Sep 2011 00:27 UTC
Kalessin
Member since:
2007-01-18

It doesn't. It's like broadband and cable/satellite TV. They all suck. Generally, there are no good options. You just try and pick the one that sucks the least.

Reply Score: 7

RE: How does the US market cope?
by Alfman on Wed 7th Sep 2011 02:14 UTC in reply to "How does the US market cope?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Kalessin,


It's one of the great ironies of capitalism/free market economics. Economists promote the free market because competition is good, however corporations in a free market end up buying each other out because it's easier and more profitable than competing.

Reply Score: 6

cyrilleberger Member since:
2006-02-01

It is because wireless is not a free market, but a regulated one. If it was a free market, it would be possible for anyone to create a competitor and start selling services.

However, since for wireless services, the number of frequencies is limited, and government have chosen to allocate them to a specific company, the market is not free but regulated, with limited competition. Hence the opposite of what economists promote. I actually have never heard of any economists promoting such a model, having a regulated market in the hand of private companies can only lead to price agreements and lack of innovation, since it is the best way to guarantee the maximization of profits.

The alternative would have been to have a state agency build the antenna and control the frequency, and rent them to any company for the same price. However, it would not solve the problem of innovation, since such agency tends to suffer more from bureaucracy and delay in implementation. But then you would get a free market. This is basically why, many countries also force wireless companies to allow virtual operators, but since the big companies can choose the price they sell to the virtual operators, it does not end up in more competition.

Reply Score: 1

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

cyrilleberger,

"It is because wireless is not a free market, but a regulated one. If it was a free market, it would be possible for anyone to create a competitor and start selling services."

Not really, you cannot ignore that the radio spectrum gives the carriers something of a natural monopoly - and that regulation is needed to help break that up.

Under those circumstances the best you can do is rebrand someone else's service. Not sure about the rest of the world, but rebranded telco DSL was insanely popular in the US a few years back. I suppose that was a form of competition, but it was not competing networks, merely competing billing agencies.

In any case it was only because of regulation that this was possible, otherwise one corporation would own the whole network (again).

Edited 2011-09-07 07:48 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

(sorry for the slightly off-topic comment)

And after an IPO companies usually stop looking at the longterm. Only shortterm profits.

By then, they are a lot more likely to get a CEO who doesn't own a large part of the company so he/she cares less about what happends to the company in a few years just getting the bonusses.

When looking at the short term, this means moving parts of the company to lower wager countries or outsourcing.

When the company starts outsourcing the production of their core products they will loose all ability to "innovate" because they will loose all knowledge of how the produce the products.

I think the system isn't perfect yet. ;-)

Edited 2011-09-08 13:24 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: How does the US market cope?
by kaiwai on Wed 7th Sep 2011 06:34 UTC in reply to "How does the US market cope?"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

It doesn't. It's like broadband and cable/satellite TV. They all suck. Generally, there are no good options. You just try and pick the one that sucks the least.


Maybe if the free to air television in the US didn't royally suck balls then maybe those pay television operators would have something to compete with.

Reply Score: 3

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's the crazy thing about the forced switch to digital. We were promised the sun and moon, and ended up with a turd. We gained about 45 extra local channels in my area, however about half of those are doubled. In other words, channel 23 is also channel 41, or thereabouts.

Also, only a few of the new channels are worth watching; the rest are split between local public access (and around there that means a dozen variations on Bubba's Fishin' n' Huntin' Show 24/7), televangelism networks, and Latino TV. Now don't get me wrong, I speak Spanish and could probably enjoy a couple of those, but when that's the best there is out of the bad lot it's just sad.

There are a couple of gems in there though. There is one channel dedicated to older TV shows and has very few advertisements, and there's one similar but for really old and obscure movies, like all of Roger Corman's stuff, and old Basil Rathbone and Vincent Price flicks. For a classic horror fan like me that's a boon.

Overall though, it's nowhere near competition for cable. I've been doing the Netflix thing since I got an Xbox on the cheap, but my girlfriend will soon be cancelling her subscription due to their increase in prices. I may look into Hulu Plus, and there's always torrenting but I've always been somewhat on the fence about that. Broadcast TV I don't have an issue with so much, but pay TV I don't like to download "unofficially". I guess if the show is really good, it's worth waiting on the DVD, but I'm impatient. ;)

Reply Score: 2

jptros Member since:
2005-08-26

Hulu plus kinda sucks, just my opinion. I've enjoyed Netflix for a while but the studios are doing everything in their power to flush it down the toilet. You can't even rent a DVD anymore in my city except at Redbox. Your traditional movie rental stores have all shut down. I guess they think when we can't rent DVDs or stream movies anymore we're all going to start spending $20+ to take our families to go see a movie or pay nearly $30 for a new release DVD. Look forward to the day that this all backfires in their faces.

Reply Score: 4

marcus0263 Member since:
2007-06-02

Yep, Hulu sucks balls. I actually stopped subscribing to all media, Cable, Sat and even over the air which includes radio. Many moons ago I remember when Cable came onto the scene, the selling point to paying for what you could get for free was no commercials. Hell FM radio had very limited if any commercials. Now all the crap they spew is pretty much unwachable and cannot listen too since it's pretty much all commercials now.

The big entertainment industry blames DVD's and piracy to cover up their own incompetence and greed.

Me, I get all my radio via the internet along with movies completed by a large and ever growing DVD/CD collection. I luv my Roku ;)

Reply Score: 2

Virtual operators
by bogomipz on Fri 9th Sep 2011 20:16 UTC
bogomipz
Member since:
2005-07-11

I find it amazing that the large American wireless market only has four nationwide players.

There are virtual network operators in addition to the big ones, aren't there? The network owners compete on network coverage, signal quality and price, while the virtual operators compete mostly on price, making sure there is a significant market for the end user. Having more than a handful redundant networks does not really sound necessary as long as the market regulation ensures virtual operators can exist as well.

There is a list of US MVNOs at the bottom of the following article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_virtual_network_operator

Reply Score: 2