According to a news item making the rounds this morning, AT&T may well be on the hook to the tune of 6 billion bucks if the proposed merger with T-Mobile isn’t approved by the FCC. If the feds refuse to allow the $39 billion deal to go through, AT&T will pay out $3 billion in cash, $2 billion in specturm and yet another billion in the form of a roaming agreement. All of this dough will apparently be offered up as a “break up fee,” which likely enticed T-Mobile to agree to this deal in the first place. It’s a win-win situation for the company, after all. Even if they lose, they are still coming out ahead in a very big way.
This high amount proves that AT&T is pretty confident that they can convince regulators to approve the proposed deal. Companies such as Sprint, of course, are vehemently opposed to the sale. The cash portion of this deal alone is worth nearly 8% of the total deal price, and the addition of the assets and services mean that these two companies are smashing previous records when it comes to break up fees.
Your mouth is likely hanging wide open after reading these numbers. Think of it from T-Mobile’s point of view, though. The deal is not just about them making boatloads of money… their services would be drastically improved by joining with AT&T. If the sale doesn’t go through, the company stands to still languish as a lesser provider. The spectrum fee alone will pay for about 10 megahertz of spectrum. This is the absolute minimum required to offer high-speed wireless service to consumers.
That 10 megahertz would more than DOUBLE T-Mobile’s current available specturm for your high-speed services, y’all. The company would then be able to increase data speeds by about 1 1/2 times over what you are used to now. 20 megahertz would increase speeds by nearly four times. In a time when data speeds are important to all of us when choosing a provider, losing out on the chance to merge with AT&T will still allow T-Mobile to become much more competitive – without having to raise their prices in order to do so.
What are your thoughts on the entire proposal? Are you in favor of the deal, or against it? Do you believe that these extremely high break up fees are within the realm of normal these days?
Usually when an ISP is discussed, it is directly related to how fast their speeds are or how good their customer service may be. I often see someone get angry with their provider and Tweet out that they are planning a switch to someone new. We take for granted the fact that there are many choices and options out there, but that isn’t always the case. What happens when there are no choices? How is it possible that in this day and age there are still fairly large cities with a monopoly in place?
Look at Indianapolis, for example. It’s not a small town… we’re talking a population of 829,718. This is the eleventh largest city in the United States according to the 2010 census, yet my assistant Kat has spent hours attempting to find alternatives to Bright House and AT&T. There is nothing there, unless they want to fork over $200.00 per month for a T1 line. She’d absolutely love to have one of those, but like most of you out there – it’s not in her budget. I find it incredulous that in today’s cutthroat ISP market there is nothing else there for her to choose from.
Indy isn’t alone, either. There are large cities all across this fair country of ours who have to deal with utility monopolies. Most of the time, this is in the form of electricity and natural gas providers. Living here in Seattle, I guess I simply didn’t realize that there are still places where you are stuck with one company for your high-speed Internet service, as well.
I know that Kat and others like her should be grateful to have access to a broadband connection at all, and I know that she is. There are still millions of people in this country alone who don’t even have that option, and that’s something that the FCC is trying to address. This rant is more aimed at the fact that we shouldn’t have to deal with such monopolies in 2011, no matter what form it takes.
Are you on a proverbial desert island when it comes to choices for your ISP or other utility services? Let us hear from you in the comments.
The truth? You can’t handle the truth! This quote from the movie “A Few Good Men” pretty much sums up the way I feel about the news flying around the web today regarding AT&T. I’m angry – much as many of you are. Guess what, oh darling AT&T? We already knew you couldn’t handle our iPhone traffic. We’ve known this for nearly four years now. We’ve attempted to tell you. We’ve begged and pleaded. We have whined, nagged and thrown virtual temper tantrums. FINALLY you admit there’s an actual problem. Doing this a long time ago would have gone a long way towards keeping customers happy and loyal to your company.
In today’s FCC filing, the mobile giant admits that it needs help in order to succeed. It clearly lays out the reasoning for wanting to buy out T-Mobile: it needs the additional boost to the network. The company’s mobile data volume jumped by more than 8,000% in the time period from 2007 to 2010. As a result, its network is dealing with capacity constraints far more severe than any other provider. Sure, Verizon has the iPhone now, as well… along with other smartphones. But the sheer volume of this Apple device on AT&Ts network has brought the carrier to its knees.
AT&T claims in the filing that the buyout “will thus benefit consumers by reducing the number of dropped and blocked calls, increasing data speeds, improving in-building coverage, and dramatically expanding deployment of next-generation mobile technology.” With devices such as the iPhone generating more than twenty times the amount of data a conventional smartphone does, the network is clogged on a constant basis. Calls are dropped and lost. Downloads are stalled. Connections aren’t available. It’s a nightmare, and one which AT&T hopes will end with this merger.
The company has said repeatedly that there isn’t time to beef up its network on its own. It takes years to get proper permits and things lined up in order to build even one tower. Imagine the time – and money – it would take to erect enough towers to make the network truly stable again. This merger makes sense for that reason alone – but not everyone agrees.
Sprint is vehemently opposed, for obvious reasons. The merger will undoubtedly make the company an enormous one. Sprint wants the government to put the kibosh on the entire deal, claiming that it will create a “duopoly” which will prevent other companies from being competitive. Sprint also feels that the deal will raise prices through the roof.
As an AT&T customer, I sure won’t mind having a more stable and reliable network. I don’t want to sneer when the Verizon guy asks if I can hear him now. I’d like to simply use my phone anytime – and anywhere – I wish. I can see the point of view of the competing businesses and those opposed. I don’t know… what do you think? Is this a deal that should be allowed? Keep in mind that the data demands on AT&T – and all other companies – will continue to skyrocket over the next few years. Should they be merging together in this manner, or should they be attempting to build more towers?
If you were given a voice about the proposed T-Mobile buyout, what would you say? Do you feel that your voice matters in this situation? Even though the $39 Billion purchase has yet to go in front of the government for review, Consumers Union wants to know what you think. You can send an email to The Consumerist to share your thoughts.
The combined company (if it gets the proper approvals) will be the largest US carrier by far. AT&T and T-Mobile together have about 25% more subscribers now than Verizon does. The acquisition is reportedly not about gaining new subscribers, though – it’s about improving the reliability of service overall. Additionally, the move helps AT&T prepare for the advent of 4G communication.
AT&T has been lambasted for poor service and dropped calls more times than it is likely possible to count. However, fixing the issues isn’t as easy as some would like to believe. The company is investing billions to upgrade the network. This isn’t a fast process, though, friends. It takes YEARS to get approval and then build new towers, especially in areas such as San Francisco and New York City. These are reportedly two of the worst service areas due to congestion. Yet – the company’s hands are tied when it comes to hurrying a fix along. This proposed cellular service merger will open up many new towers, thus improving service instantly for millions of people.
The Consumerist site has posted articles both in favor of and against this marriage of companies. Now, the site wants to hear your take on the venture:
Before the sale goes under the regulators’ microscope, CU wants to hear opinions on how the everyday consumer regardless of their current wireless provider thinks the deal will impact everything from rates to choice to customer service.
If the choice were up to you, what would you decide? Would you allow the buyout or would you throw the proverbial hand in AT&Ts face?
Pretty much since the beginning of time, I’ve had an unlimited data plan on my iPhones. That feature costs me about thirty bucks each month. I also have an unlimited plan on my iPad 3G, which costs another thirty smackers. You do the math – that’s sixty dollars each month, folks. There has to be a better solution, right?
I killed off my no-subscription-needed iPad plan. I’m going to enabling tethering via my iPhone. That plan will cost me $45.00 per month. Instead of playing $60.00 each month for two separate services, I am attempting to find a new solution that will work better for me.
I took a good look at my usage models on both devices. I hit 4 to 5GB of data combined over the course of several months. It just makes sense to pay for 4GB per month, right? The math shows that there’s just no way I should ever hit that cap.
Theoretically, I’m saving fifteen bucks each month. Keep in mind, if you switch from your old unlimited AT&T plan to a usage-based plan, you will not be able to go back – ever. It took me a moment to click that button. I know I’m saving money, but what if I do end up needing that data later? That’s something that each of you will have to consider before making this same choice.
Isn’t this a geek’s worst nightmare – losing unlimited data? But think about it for a moment… do you honestly NEED an unlimited plan? Why are you paying for that which you never use? Are you throwing your money out the window at the moment just in case you might one day need to utilize more than 4GB in any one month?
I was able to turn on the Personal Hot Spot instantly upon enabling it on my account. It was very simple to flip on and even easier to connect with. Within a matter of seconds, I was surfing the web on the iPad by using my iPhone 4.
Yes, it was slightly depressing to get rid of my unlimited plan. However, it is very cool to know I now have a Personal Hot Spot anywhere I may go.
As I type that title, there’s a line from an old song running through my head: “the day the music died”. Cue a scratchy album version of American Pie as I write, please. iPhone fans and critics alike have waited for weeks now to see if the iPhone on Verizon will function exactly as its AT&T counterpart. Early reports and tear-downs show very little difference between the two devices. We already know the whole GSM vs. CDMA debate, and have been repeatedly told that nothing will really change for anyone.
Telenav created the AT&T Navigator app for the original iPhone, but today had to release Telenav GPS for the Verizon iPhone. You read that correctly… they had to release a new version specifically for the new device. According to a conversation between Telenav and ZDNET, the original app would not work properly on the Verizon version of the popular phone.
As much as I respect his insight, this “fragmentation problem” is not what Kendrick makes it out to be.
The app (in its original form) would not play nicely with the hardware inside the new “Verizon iPhone.” Not much has changed in that respect, and Telenav wouldn’t elaborate on which specific differences forced their app change (beyond the title, duh). The new Verizon app is just different enough, though, that it won’t run on the AT&T iPhone.
I’m not so sure I’d say that the app store is any more “fragmented” than before – no more than it was for apps that, say, have been most functional on iPhones (compared to older iPod touches without cameras).
Up until today, AT&T had an exclusive lock on the iPhone. Now that it is available on the Verizon network, people are wondering whether or not they should be changing providers. When King5 news came to my house earlier today, Dad and I sat down with the reporter to talk about all of these types of questions.
Dad had a heck of a time choosing a cell phone for himself. He wanted a smartphone, but had no idea what exactly he needed. He checked out several different models, and did end up settling on an iPhone 4. Now, he’s wondering if he should be switching to Verizon.
Dad lives in an area where AT&T works well. Why on Earth would he pay those cancellation fees to make a switch? If you are happy with AT&T at this time, there’s no reason to be changing anything. Don’t break your contract. The phones themselves really aren’t any different.
When looking for a phone for yourself, keep my Dad’s advice in mind: “Why buy a Cadillac when a Chevy will do?” If you don’t NEED bells and whistles, then don’t pay for them.
You will soon be able to port your current telephone number over to your Google Voice account – for a small fee, that is. For the nominal cost of twenty bucks (payable via Google Checkout), you can terminate your current service plan – and likely rack up some early termination fees. Think about it, though… you’ll never ever lose your current number! Is that worth paying out a few extra (hundred) dollars in the form of those cancellation fees when you look at the grand scheme of things?
The feature is still being tested and isn’t quite available to everyone as of yet. According to an official statement from Google, “We’re continually testing new features to enhance the user experience. For a limited amount of time, we’re making the Google Voice number porting process available to users. We don’t have any additional details to share at this time, but plan to offer this feature to all users in the near future.”
I find it ironic that Google is making it easy for AT&T haters (such as MG Sigler) an easy way out. I know many of you are planning to suck up those fees and cancel your current contracts in favor of Verizon’s iPhone. By using the new port feature on Google Voice, you won’t lose your current number – and can have calls to it forwarded to your new device. How handy is that? MG has already done it, and I think many more will follow suit.
If you already have a Google Voice number that you regularly use, this newly ported number will wipe that out (though you’ll have access to both for 90 days as you transition). And yes, you will still need another service plan from another carrier that you can then forward your old number to — Google is still not a carrier (at least not yet). So be careful.
What are your thoughts? Do you plan to port an existing number over to Google Voice? Are you jumping onto the Verizon bandwagon? Is your head stuck in the wrong Cloud – not allowing you to see the potential beauty in what Google is trying to do?
AT&T’s Txtng & Drivng Campaign urges consumers to realize that ‘It Can Wait’. This documentary featuring families affected by texting while behind the wheel is being distributed to educators, government officials, safety organizations and public as part of a educational awareness campaign.
The man who shot the documentary for the company has himself now stopped texting while driving. “The people who shared their stories, were brave and wonderful. We all think we are superhuman and can do almost anything, we rarely consider the consequences of our own actions. This doc won’t change that, but it might help us remember it, hopefully, in at least one area of our lives. Think about the people in this doc who aren’t here to celebrate the holidays because of texting while driving.”
If something is urgent enough to need immediate attention on your phone, pull over to the side of the road or off at the nearest exit. Ask someone in the vehicle with you to type your response. Grab an app that you can simply talk to in order to text FOR you. Use hands-free devices. Most importantly, use some common sense, folks, that’s all AT&T is trying to remind you of.
Don’t let yourself – or anyone else on the road – become a statistic because your phone couldn’t wait.
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