Editorial: A T-Mobile Customer’s Thoughts on the AT&T/T-Mobile Deal

I’ve been invited by David to post my thoughts on the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T from the perspective of a T-Mobile customer. I have slightly modified this article from the original I posted on Mobile Central to include a bit more information.

As a T-Mobile customer, I’m against the acquisition by AT&T. T-Mobile has a great reputation as a value leader and offering top notch customer service. In fact, they’ve been rated the highest in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates for several years now. T-Mobile also does an excellent job maintaining their towers and making them reliable. While they don’t have the 3G footprint of AT&T, they are getting there.

I’ve done my research regarding spectrum. I know that AT&T possesses quite a bit of spectrum on their own, much more than T-Mobile. They even own enough spectrum (somewhere close to 100 MHz, I believe) to build all over the nation. But, the problem is that their spectrum isn’t harmonized (meaning that they don’t have a single frequency band that is used all over their network). T-Mobile is fortunate enough to have at least 20-30 MHz of spectrum in every market in the AWS-1 (1700 MHz UL/2100 MHz DL) band range, with an additional 10-20 MHz in the PCS (1900 MHz) band range. AT&T’s spectrum is all over the place, some 10-20 MHz here and there in Cellular (850 MHz), some 15-20 MHz here and there in PCS, about 10 MHz in most areas in US Dig Div (U.S. Digital Dividend – 700 MHz), and about 10MHz in the western half of the country on AWS-1. This actually puts AT&T in a worse situation than T-Mobile, because their licenses are scattered all over the place. Without T-Mobile, they would require tri-band LTE devices right out of the gate, because they don’t actually have a single high quality spectrum band that covers all parts of the country. However, AT&T’s overall spectrum concentration in every single market that they both participate in (and several markets that T-Mobile doesn’t yet participate in), is much higher than T-Mobile’s.

Obviously, AT&T’s spectrum on PCS and Cellular is wide enough that they can run both 2G and 3G services on the same spectrum band. That means they have more than enough room to initially build out LTE on their current spectrum holdings. Provided, of course, that AT&T is willing to decommission their older networks in order to free up spectrum.

The spectrum crunch that AT&T tends to say that they have is complete and utter nonsense. For years, AT&T held some AWS-1 spectrum and they didn’t use it at all. Why? Because they didn’t want to force themselves to offer devices that would be compatible on their only competitor’s network (T-Mobile).

As far as band frequency support for LTE, I know for a fact that ST-Ericsson has several multi-band LTE chips that support most of the frequency bands used in the United States for 3G. Qualcomm’s Gobi chips that have LTE support also do support some of the frequency bands for LTE. Multi-band chips are not an issue, since the manufacturers were prepared this time. Nokia-Siemens Networks, Ericsson, Motorola Network Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent, and Huawei are also all ready for building out towers that broadcast LTE on any of the currently used frequency bands for 3G, and of course, they support US Dig Div spectrum. AT&T will not have a problem getting multi-band LTE chips for cheap, because they are massive enough that the economies of scale will kick in very quickly. They don’t need T-Mobile for any sort of spectrum crunch alleviation.

Another thing that bothered me about the AT&T announcement was the fact that they said that T-Mobile USA had no clear plans for 4G LTE. That is simply not true. They didn’t have definitive plans, but they did have several plans described for deploying 4G LTE. One plan was that they would re-farm their PCS (1900MHz) spectrum to use with LTE after they’ve built out their HSPA+ network sufficiently enough that they can begin taking down the 2G GSM network. That was to be enacted in 2012, when they began shutting down the 2G GSM network in areas that have HSPA+ built out completely. Gradually, they would have replaced 2G with 4G LTE. Since their 2G spectrum is pretty wide in most areas, the 4G speeds would have been pretty good. The expenses would have been the biggest issue, since it would have required several billion dollars. This plan was detailed during the January investors’ conference that T-Mobile USA and its parent, Deutsche Telekom, held.

There was also another option that was seriously discussed by T-Mobile USA executives for launching 4G LTE. That was doing another network-sharing agreement, similar to the one T-Mobile USA had with Cingular for their 2G GSM network before Cingular became “the new AT&T.” T-Mobile could partner with the many rural and regional carriers across the nation to combine their PCS spectrum and build out a nationwide 4G LTE network that would have a larger footprint than any other carrier in the country. They could also partner with Sprint and work together on building out a 4G LTE network on the PCS band. Considering the culture compatibility between T-Mobile USA and Sprint-Nextel, it could work out well for the both of them. They could have even partnered with AT&T, given the compatible technologies and complementary spectrum. Unfortunately, such a partnership probably wouldn’t work out so well because they have very different corporate cultures and values.

Well, if they had a plan of action, why did Deutsche Telekom announce the sale of T-Mobile USA to AT&T? Simply because they are reducing their scope from worldwide to just Europe, and probably later into just T-Mobile Deutschland. Their primary shareholder, the German government, probably wants them to focus more on the domestic market rather than international ones. That explains why Deutsche Telekom merged T-Mobile UK with France Télécom’s Orange U.K. last year to form the new holding company “Everything Everywhere” that manages the networks and brands of both T-Mobile UK and Orange U.K. Deutsche Telekom plans on exploring ways of minimizing their direct involvement with markets outside of Germany while still maintaining some sort of presence there. Expect to see Deutsche Telekom do similar actions for other T-Mobile branches across Europe that they wholly own.

Additionally, Deutsche Telekom gave up on T-Mobile USA in 2008, after the iPhone came the Cingular, which was transitioning to become “the new AT&T” at the time. I remember reading somewhere that Deutsche Telekom sent a memo in 2008 to T-Mobile USA executives saying that they missed their chance to become a significant player in the market, and the tone of the memo suggested that Deutsche Telekom was going to be more hands-off on managing T-Mobile USA. Later that year, T-Mobile was unable to acquire any US Dig Div spectrum because their parent chose not to participate in the auction. And of course, then T-Mobile brought out the G1, the very first commercially released Android phone, and it was a great success. The next year, Verizon brought out the Motorola DROID, which completely overshadowed T-Mobile’s myTouch line that launched that same year.

So, what does this mean? It means that the only way T-Mobile USA will get the needed cash infusion to build out a 4G LTE network is if the deal is blocked. The terms of the deal between AT&T and Deutsche Telekom state that if the deal is blocked or AT&T cancels the deal, T-Mobile USA will receive $3 billion and all the AWS-1 spectrum AT&T owns but isn’t using for 4G LTE at the moment of cancellation. The cash and spectrum infusion would allow them to build out their own 4G LTE network immediately.

I’ve noticed that very few people in the news media bring up the fact that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA would effectively create a monopoly. Why would it do that when we have two other national carriers? It is because T-Mobile USA and AT&T Mobility are the only two super-regional carriers left in the USA that use the GSM family of technologies. The two competing GSM networks have allowed for a wide variety of devices to come into the American market. This is important because most people are too stupid to realize that their devices cost way more than they are actually paying up front, and that they demand it to be cheaper and don’t care that they are signing two year contracts. If the acquisition is approved, the number of GSM devices in the market will drop considerably. As of right now (March 30, 2011), there are nearly 300 different GSM devices currently available for sale directly from T-Mobile USA and AT&T. If the acquisition is approved, you can expect that number to cut in half, at least. Of course, it wouldn’t matter all that much because there’s only one carrier to use the devices on if AT&T acquires T-Mobile. You can also expect for prices on AT&T to get much higher because AT&T doesn’t really have a competitor that competes against them so evenly and on all fronts. Verizon and Sprint don’t really count because you can’t take your devices from AT&T and use them on Verizon and Sprint, since they use CDMA2000 with EV-DO Rev. A instead of GSM and UMTS with HSPA+.

AT&T is terrible at managing their network compared to T-Mobile. And the service and support has only really begun improving late last year. It will take quite a lot of time for AT&T to catch up in terms of overall quality to the levels expected by T-Mobile customers. And AT&T will crush T-Mobile’s open culture after the acquisition is complete, in favor of AT&T’s monopolistic conservative culture.

AT&T also doesn’t really get open networks and open solutions. Their Android devices are locked down, with sideloading blocked. They are the only carrier in the world that does that, by the way. AT&T prefers nickel-and-diming customers instead of making them happy enough to continue staying with AT&T, which is why they chose femtocells instead of UMA. UMA did exist before femtocells, by the way. UMA was built into the GSM standard with the EDGE and UMTS standards. In fact, femtocells rely on a variant of UMA technology to work. If AT&T acquires T-Mobile, they’ll probably kill off the G-series of Android devices, the ones that are pure Google Experience devices. UMA will probably disappear as well. And of course, no more Even More Plus plans and unlimited data plans.

There is some good news though. If the deal were to be approved, it would take at least three years after the acquisition is complete before they could take over the network and start repurposing the AWS-1 spectrum for 4G LTE. It is even likelier that it would take five years before they have everything in order to begin migrating the AWS-1 network to LTE. So our devices wouldn’t stop working for a very long time. Additionally, AT&T does practice grandfathering when it does acquisitions. Existing T-Mobile customers will never be forced off their current plans, even when they do phone upgrades into 4G LTE. But that is a small consolation prize compared to the larger problems AT&T would cause by acquiring T-Mobile.

Given all the real facts, it is definitely shown that AT&T should not be permitted to acquire T-Mobile USA.

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  • WannaStayTMo

    I’m curious… while we know T-Mobile would benefit from the deal NOT going through… would there be some sort of benefit to AT&T as well? They’ll lose cash and spectrum, but maybe some bigger gain, better position, or maybe smaller loss in the long run? Sort of a “don’t throw us in the briar patch” by not letting the deal go through?

    • Anonymous

      I haven’t read about any upside for AT&T if the deal gets rejected.

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

        They’ll probably get a bone thrown at them when the next spectrum auction gears up, and they’ll probably receive some sort of credit. Since they said the reason for acquiring T-Mobile was purely for spectrum, the next spectrum auction will probably allow AT&T to get a break on the paying out for the spectrum.

  • Galaxylover

    ” If the deal were to be approved, it would take at least three years after the acquisition is complete before they could take over the network and start repurposing the AWS-1 spectrum for 4G LTE. It is even likelier that it would take five years before they have everything in order to begin migrating the AWS-1 network to LTE. So our devices wouldn’t stop working for a very long time.”

    Are you sure? How do you know? Reading this put me at ease for around 10 seconds, but now I’d like to know how you arrived at this. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I hope that you are right. If this is true, will I get to keep my HSPA+ TMO style? If so, I’m good. I can stop obsessing about this merger for a while. My 21 Mbps Samsung is giving me brilliant speed, and 42 Mbps soon will only make it better.

    Also, as far as I can tell LTE seems to suck battery life. I’m getting around 7 Mbps now, and my phone with moderate to heavy use is getting me about 14 hours of battery life. It’s a great phone on a great network.

    If more people knew how great Tmobile was, they would have a few million more subscribers and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      After the closing of the acquisition, the earliest they can begin migrating is three years AFTER closing because by then, all two year contracts would expire, and AT&T plans on using that to get people to upgrade to new devices that support the Cellular and PCS bands for 3G. However, AT&T’s management isn’t very efficient, and integrating the management of an acquired company into AT&T will divert resources that could be used to prepare for the migration, so it could take slightly longer.

      • Galaxylover

        I hope you’re right. It sounds reasonable, because I’m sure these things take time. I don’t want them shutting off my HSPA+ . I’m pretty happy with it, considering a lot of people are on it. Unlike Verizon’s LTE network which is relatively new.

        Thanks for trying to clear this up for me. I appreciate the reply.

      • Wilma Flintstone

        If this was based off of 2 year contracts, wouldn’t the earliest be 2 years and 1 day after?

        • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

          No. They need to leave a year to give people time to upgrade their phones and to receive them too. Not everyone upgrades immediately after contract expiration. They also have to make sure everyone has them for longer than 30 days, which is AT&T’s standard exchange and return period.

  • Tito!

    Can I get an Amen to this post? Clearly, the DOJ, FCC, etc. cannot give in into this mumbo jumbo crap nonsense pick up lines AT&T keeps spitting out. this is clearly not a good deal, not responsible, not safe, not right. If DT wants to sell out, let them. but force them to comply as T-Mobile USA .
    we need the competition, the lower pricings, the phone options, everything this company has to offer.
    I’d rather see this company be bought by Sprint, or by any American here & be named after its moniker (an actual USA company); since DT can’t play.

    T-Mobile, FTW! (:

  • TM97

    I don’t like this merger either, but the poster of this thread knows little about the network needs and capacity.

    It would take a decade to migrate people off of the GSM network, and they aren’t going to be happy about farming 1900 for LTE with T-Mobile, and frankly DT didn’t want to spend the money on another network this quickly.

    The pooch was screwed when 3G was initially talked about launching. They said, and I quote “We are only going to launch 3G for voice only”, which was stupid.

    T-Mobile hired former AT&T rejects to run its company in management. The average employee cares to much about the customer to be a higher executive, whose main job isn’t the customer, its making money. DT has been pressing for higher EBITDA since 2006.

    Its a pipe dream to think that T-Mobile could have survived on its own. Combining with rural carriers would have increased spectrum needs more, and more money for equipment.

    The spectrum in the “100 MHZ” that was referred to was 700MHz. Thats because it gets out further than the higher frequency bands. You get rural carriers then.

    This merger isn’t going to be pretty, and it is going to suck on a lot of levels, but it is really the only way that AT&T could launch 4G LTE. T-Mobile was doomed to a merger with AT&T or Sprint. I feel that AT&T was the lesser of two evils there. The only other hope was for a third party to step in and want to start a new network, in which case we are talking hundreds of billions of dollars to do. Google, to my mind, was the only option for that. As for Google, why limit yourself to one network you run, when you can operate on everyones network and go H2H with Apple.

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      What? Why in the world would it take a decade to migrate people off of the 2G GSM network? A grand majority of the consumers using T-Mobile’s network are using T-Mobile 3G devices. The ones that aren’t that bought their devices from T-Mobile could probably get an early upgrade if necessary. And the ones that didn’t buy from T-Mobile would be on their own anyway.

      I understand DT not wanting to spend money on another network, which is why they pushed HSPA+ as 4G, and DT plans to do the same in Europe.

      I don’t remember the 3G for voice only quote, so I dunno about that.

      As far as I knew, the main reason T-Mobile wasn’t getting higher EBITDA was because T-Mobile had a horrible reputation as far as coverage goes. Which was well earned, unfortunately. It was only recently that they started getting really aggressive about building out their network, but by then, the damage was done. Customers didn’t think about getting T-Mobile because of its reputation. The same could be said for AT&T. They are currently bad at managing their network because they too never really expected data to be so important on 3G. Unfortunately, AT&T still hasn’t gotten their act together even though it has been three years since then. Customer service on AT&T has been gradually improving over the last year, so we’ll see…

      With network sharing, they’d still be building out a network, but the carriers involved in the buildout would pool together all of their spectrum and give it as much bandwidth as possible and combining backhaul to enhance capacity. It could work, given the vast amounts of PCS spectrum owned by rural and regional carriers across the nation. But it all depends on how wide the amount of PCS spectrum in each area is. LTE itself operates on 1.4MHz, 5MHz, 10MHz, and 20MHz bandwidths. Any wider is extraneous, though extra width could be used to have LTE operate in dual-carrier mode. I doubt that would be necessary for quite some time though.

      The 100MHz number is spectrum bandwidth, as in how MUCH spectrum they have, not what spectrum spot they have. Their holdings in Cellular, PCS, AWS-1, and US Dig Div total to be just about 100MHz.

      Of course, our fears could be entirely unfounded and AT&T could possible provide an excellent cellular experience after acquiring T-Mobile. But after living through a couple of acquisitions by AT&T, my experience says no.

      There’s no way Google would limit itself by building out a mobile network unless it was only going to do business wholesale. And even then, wholesale networks are risky and costly to maintain. It is easier for Google to just keep focusing on what it does best: search, advertising, and Android.

  • Chrisrockrocks

    Your last sentence gave you away. Moron.

    My the by; ‘they said’ VOIP would never work due to the latency issues. Errr, a guess they have figured that out…ehh little chum????

    • Anonymous

      You are an AT&T paid troll, aren’t you?

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      No. “They said” VoIP would never work on 3G due to latency issues. And they are absolutely correct. Latency on 3G is terrible without dual-carrier mode activated on HSPA+. Being connected to more towers makes it less likely to lose the signal (and consequently, the packets), which lowers the latency considerably.

      In the case of 4G LTE, the OFDMA radio technique essentially does the same thing.

  • Chrisrockrocks

    ATT is loved by most. Get onboard the iPhone train so Davey can get full speed.

    Oh yeah!

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      This blog is probably not the place to say stuff like that. Especially when you are so ignorant.

  • Chrisrockrocks

    I have an ATT LTE capable USB stick. Just fired it up. It ROCKS. 4M down all over town. Cant wait till LTE comes over the stagnant TMO infrastruncture.

    Aliens rock!

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      You know you are just using the regular HSPDA network, right?

    • Anonymous

      You really are a dipshit. AT&T hasn’t rolled out LTE. They are using HSPDA+, which is why they want T-mobile, because T-mobile’s HSPDA+ network is far more expansive. I hope AT&T is paying you for your trolling.

  • Chrisrockrocks

    Yes, this is just HSUPA!!!!!

  • Chrisrockrocks

    I cant wait for my LiL Wayne modem that will only work at 2M in town.

    Oh yeah!

    • Wilma Flintstone

      As long as it’s 6 foot 7

  • Anonymous

    Good stuff, good stuff!

  • Jwalker5

    There was a reason so many of us went to t mobile. We were sick of the big three dicking us around. Tmobile customer service was top notch. When something went wrong 9.9/10 times they made it right; right away. Try to get that service out of AT&T not going to happen. Sign here assume the position and you are just another dollar sign to them. Ive had poor experiences with all three of the big carriers. T-mobile was different, RIP Tmobile usa.

    • iDEN-Dude

      That’s where I’m headed….

    • Guest

      I guess that makes T-Mobile the pide piper

    • TMoFan

      Yup T-Mobile is/was a different company. It’s a sad commentary that T-Mobile’s values were not recognized and is being killed off yet att just grows and is light-years behind the service T-Mobile provides.

  • Galaxylover

    I went to T-mobile because their network was less congested with users. That’s one of the reasons they can have such a fast network. I guess that was actually also their downfall unfortunately.

    • jarjon76

      Their main downfall was giving in to scammers and people wanting everything for free. As great as their CS is, it’s also that easy for dishonest people to abuse T-Mobile’s open door policy, if you will. I’ve seen plenty of examples of it in the comments on the very blog.

  • Anonymous

    Except the $3 billion makes it easier for DT to sellout T-mobile USA to Sprint or some other interested party rather than continuing to invest in a company they don’t believe they can manage properly. You’re basic argument now is that without the AT&T deal, there was no way for DT to fund the LTE expansion with T-mobile USA. You’re also assuming that it will only cost $3 billion for T-mobile USA to move to LTE which i think way underestimates the costs of such an expansion. If I read the article correctly, AT&T is spending $40 billion on T-mobile USA and another $8 billion on top of that for their expansion.

    I completely agree on the spectrum crunch comments, however it’s not limited to just AT&T. The whole US telecommunications industry seems to be spouting the same comments of a spectrum crunch and would love to have more taken away from over the air broadcasters.

    GSM devices might decrease substantially, but there could be a substantial windfall for AT&T and handset makers by merging so many handsets. The benefit could be that these savings could be passed on to customers (or at least not increase prices). Personally, i think there’s way too much choice in the marketplace with a new smartphone coming out every half hour. It seems like the handset makers are trying to throw out as many possible combinations as possible to try and find one that can compete with the iphone.

    If AT&T is smart, they’ll start turning around their customer service image by the time the merger closes. Otherwise, i would agree that could be one huge downside to this whole deal. IMO, this is the most looming problem of the merger over all the other speculated “possible” problems.

    I think you made some good points overall, but there’s still a lot of things that are open to interpretation and possible reasons to be optimistic.

    • jarjon76

      “Personally, i think there’s way too much choice in the marketplace with a new smartphone coming out every half hour. It seems like the handset makers are trying to throw out as many possible combinations as possible to try and find one that can compete with the iphone.”

      I completely agree with this. There are WAY too many smartphones coming out and coming out way too fast. For example, there is no real difference between the Thunderbolt, Inspire, mytouch4g, and EVO, carrier branding aside. And this 3D craze is just that–I can see wanting it on a tablet, but on a phone?

      I’m all for giving customers as many options as you can and I understand technology rapidly changes, but there’s got to be a line drawn in the sand. Most of us don’t feel the need to change our phones everytime the “latest and greatest” comes out. Instead of putting their focus on getting as many smartphones out as quickly as possible, perhaps these carriers should focus on customer care and overall pricing.

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      I’d like to point out that I never actually said that it would only cost $3 billion to build out LTE, only that the cash infusion would make it possible to start LTE buildout.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the correction.

        Although my overall point about costs still seems reasonable that $3 billion is nothing considering the overall capital requirements of the buildout and ultimately DT could very well just take the money and run.

  • LalaV

    I read an article today stating ATT is disabling thier 4G phones. What kind of company does that?! Customers pay them for those services and phones, that’s crap.


    • Blacksheep427

      That is a perfect example of why I will NEVER go to AT&T.

    • http://profiles.google.com/deadlydrew Joshua Drew Bradford

      I have Atrix 4G, it gets 3g speeds right now, they have it disabled because of issues with it. AT&T likes to verify everything works great before activating. Every since the iPhone crashes they used to have from them pulling so much data.

      That’s one reason gets so much bad talk and people not liking it. When the iPhone first launched they didn’t really know what they were getting into. The same issues would have happen to any other carrier.

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

        I remember when that happened. It forced AT&T to push through a software DOWNGRADE throughout the network in order to force the iPhone to push less to the mobile network. It didn’t help that much, but it helped some. The consequence of that was that AT&T started disabling HSUPA on smartphones, even the BlackBerries suffer from this. Oddly enough, most feature phones that support HUSPA don’t have it disabled.

  • Jerrell79


  • Blacksheep427

    Excellent article, gentlemen. It will be a GSM monopoly if the government allows it to happen. Either way, DT wins. One, they are/will be rid of TMO USA. Two, they have money/resources if it passes or fails.

  • jarjon76

    No need to get so defensive. I understand there are differences between, as you pointed out, the mt4g and vibrant 4g. Those differences you stated aren’t major. In other words, both phones are plenty fast, have pretty much the same battery life (although I’ll give you the Vibrant having a slightly better battery), etc. If you like the Vibrant over the mt4g, fine. That’s your personal preference.

    My point is that there’s too much too soon. If you like changing your phones like you do you underwear, more power to you. I see a phone as a long term investment–something I will use for 2-3 years, if not longer. That aside, there’s no need for what amounts to the same phone being released so often. That’s my opinion.

    • Galaxylover

      Cool. I keep my phones for about a year and a half. When I switch, I find the technology difference quite nice. I get what you’re saying, and don’t get me wrong I don’t switch phones every new model. The Mytouch/Vibrant exchange didn’t cost me a dime as it was within the trial period. If I changed my underwear when I changed phones, that would be some pretty stinky boxers.

      Sorry for getting defensive. I do acknowledge there is like a new device every week, and I can see how one might find it overkill. I gotcha :)

      • jarjon76

        No worries, man. I see your side too. We all have different opinions and that’s a good thing.

        • http://profiles.google.com/joshdavis1991 Josh Davis

          im liking how well you guys got along. if only all of the internet were like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.lauterbach Stephen R. Lauterbach Jr.

    If this article truly has merit, and I think it does, then I think this merger might not be a good idea. But as he points out in the article, it’s a win, win for T-Mobile either way!

  • http://twitter.com/GOPMatt GOPMatt

    I’ve been mulling this over in my head….. spectrum is what? Radio waves? Air space? Uninterupted air that has no other frequencies in certain altitudes??? Someone elaborate…. thanks

  • Scubapro24

    I know many of you are against the acquisition but let’s face it DT is getting rid of it for a reason and t-mobile USA has been in trouble for quite a while now financially. Though they offer a great product they have not been able to compete successfully for various reasons. It’s much better for ATT to buy them than sprint because of the compatabilitu in the networks.

    This was inevitable, with 100% support from the parent company, opposition to this will be silly.

    I think a lot of you guys are freaking out over nothing. I think analysts are right in saying it’s a good thing for is customers. I’m sick of depending on UMA where ATT works great at my house.

    Though I love magenta, att is clearly a more successful company and has much wider coverage areas. I think ATT will do much better handling t-mobile usa’s resources than DT ever did or could.

    So let’s give this an open shot and and keep an open mind.

    • TM97

      AT&T’s problem with their coverage is the way they send people out to fix their network, their oncall rotation, and their switching use. That, and the fact that to save money a few years back they took out a lot of “infill” sites that had their coverage better in some areas.

      This merger could, and I mean could, fix that problem. T-Mobile has a lot of good employees that focus on the customer first, and have a can do attitude.

      I also know that AT&T will ax any and all co location sites, but sites that are within 3/4 miles of one another and further out that T-Mobile is on will likely be kept active sites. That will have the added benefit of filling in many of those locations that AT&T was lacking, which was a good thing. Thats why AT&T said it would help their reliability almost instantly. Within a week after the merger, both networks can simply turn off blocking to one anothers customer and you will have instantly better coverage.

      I like UMA for some instances, its possible that AT&T could keep the switching equipment. No one knows yet. The thing about UMA is that it works in buildings that have mirrored tint that seems to block a lot of GSM frequency. Of course, 850 has better possibility to penetrate, and if they use 1900 for LTE it will have the same issue with in building penetration. Seeing as its CDMA it could work better though.

      Time will tell. Again, merging with Sprint would have been a nightmare, probably worse than that of the Nextel merger. Sprint has 0 field technicians. They hire contractors only, who can take up to 3 days to fix an outage. Sprint sucks, AT&T you hear more about because they have more customers, but Sprint absolutely sucks. Anyone in the wireless industry knows this. AT&T was the best possible fit for T-Mobile, outside of a major third party like google.

      • http://profiles.google.com/deadlydrew Joshua Drew Bradford

        If Google would have bought them it would have been WONDERFUL.

        About the switch thing though, they use different frequencies so the phones are not made to support each other. Only the G2x will work on AT&T 3G

        • http://www.google.com/profiles/106604499311233966897 bluechris

          no it wouldn’t

          I’ve seen this comment a whole load of places now and I absolutely have to say NO.

          We want a world with more than one mobile OS. Don’t get me wrong, Android is great, but if google owned a mobile provider 2 things would happen –
          One is they would have huge say in what handsets get listed on their network – if there was a customization that google didn’t like it could ask for it’s removal before it would carry it.
          Two – fewer handsets. Regardless of our individual like or dislike of these systems, there is a place in the world for Windows Phone, WebOS, Symbian, Blackberry. Would they seriously carry devices running competing platforms – if they did, would they run the ones that have specs to compete well with android devices? Would these platforms want Google to be checking their updates for their devices and making carrier customizations to their OS. Likely you would also see other carriers stop supporting Android devices.

          No, Google, Microsoft, HP, RIM and Nokia should stick to being OS developers and manufacturers. The second that any OS maker or Hardware maker becomes a major service carrier will be a bad day for consumers. To be honest, the only platform maker that could pull this off in the US would be Apple, as it’s not like they have a big product portfolio to support anyway. I still think it would eb a bad idea.

        • Anonymous

          @Joshua–That is a stunningly horrible idea.

          Google proves daily that it cares little about the consumer, only in getting its search services embedded in as many places as possible. The apparent only time Google stood up to cell carriers is when Verizon replaced Google with Bing on a few Android models, apparently drawing the interest of the Department of Justice (according to news stories today). Otherwise, they don’t care if the cell provider or manufacturer locks down the hardware or loads up the phone with bloatware apps which can’t be deleted without rooting, as long as Google is able to implant its apps within the phone. Do I want Google Books or Goggles taking up space on my N1? No, but I can’t delete the apps and free up the internal storage space, either.

          Google would be the worst possible owner for a cell provider.

  • http://profiles.google.com/deadlydrew Joshua Drew Bradford

    I have to say in all reality your article really does interest me and I can see what you are saying. But, T-Mobile has had financial issues for a while. It really is not a monopoly since a majority of people do not shop just for a GSM carrier, but for what gives them the best service for the best money. If AT&T doesn’t buy them, someone else will. As a whole AT&T is focusing on being a better customer service provider. I have had them 12 years and I did leave for 2 months last year for verizon, which was worse then AT&T any day. My reception and speed on AT&T is wonderful. The spectrum thing I believe is a real issue for them though. I have experienced the slow downs and things of that type. But I just honestly cannot see how this would not benefit a consumer? Better reception, faster speeds, more device choices. It’s not like they would actually cut out a ridiculous amount of devices.

    As far as their prices going up that is highly unlikely. The cost for the buy out won’t really affect AT&T because their financial plan has them making the money back within 5 years. Yes T-Mobile will see a price increase because obviously the prices they had were not working. Being the cheaper carrier doesn’t get you very far.

    They plan on having the buy out complete in 12 months and I have heard updated towers rolled out and working by 18-24 months.

    They do grandfather you because I was part of Cingular when they were bought.
    This is just a great idea and I completely support it. As do most customers I know that really think about it.


      @joshua, 33 million t-mo customers have had daily opportunities to switch to att and we don’t.

      the nearest t-mo tower to me is 35 miles away and i won’t.

      i have no brand loyalty and i’m a technology whore.

      i like t-mo because they don’t treat me like a kid and they provide the services i want.

      att doesn’t.

      if they can’t give me dsl on the ground should i really expect them to even give me 3-g in the air, let alone 4-g?

      see how fast an iphone is on rural egde.


    @conan, only thing tour editorial indicates is that the offer is way too low.

    DT gave mccaw almost the same amount of money for a lot less when they bought voicestream.

    somebody will come forward with a bigger offer soon, that’s why the closing date is so far off.

    right now all the investment banks are working overtime to see who’s going to make another offer so they can get in on the deal.

    customer outcry is expected during these deals.

    the deal is not going down in its present form.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t believe DT can accept any offers for T-mobile USA until they go through the entire process that could take as long as a year. It’s why there is a $3 billion fee in case the deal doesn’t go through. It’s all locked up for that period of time.

      Even then, Sprint is the only one that makes sense and they weren’t able to offer more than AT&T.

  • 1503462

    can some1 tell me what is going to happen wit r phone we gonna use da same or we getting new1s

  • Guest

    What a horrible article no sources cited and it starts off purporting to be about a customers perspective not some sort of history lesson about at&t and their spectrum

    • Quailallstar

      I smell an AT&T troll…

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      I could offer sources, but the spectrum information was hard to get with the FCC info site being broken most of the time. Other information would require me to comb through lots of websites to put together all of my information. And some of it is just analysis of investor meetings and such, of which I have no hard record anymore.

  • Nannas

    I love this comment: “This is important because most people are too stupid to realize that their devices cost way more than they are actually paying up front, and that they demand it to be cheaper and don’t care that they are signing two year contracts.” This is so true.

    • DetroitTechnoFan

      I’m on Even More Plus, so I knew full well how much my Cliq cost me last year, and even so I’ll still be paying less overall than I would be under a subsidized plan. It pay$ to know!

      • http://twitter.com/ITMedCEO Derrick Ford

        Smart Man — > DetroitTechnoFan. Plus, with Even More Plus (which I have myself) you can pay for the phone over 19 months no interest. AT&T will never have anything that can touch this plan!

  • E Hugus

    You can argue over every little detail of the merger, but in the long run the customer will be the loser as well as the employees of T-mobile. This is an informative article. I expect higher prices, fewer really up to date equipment choices and told what provider I must use. I will not go with CDMA since it is not used in many other countries.

  • Low IQ

    its a business! Why would anyone think customers would be 1st? ?
    The only winners are maybe the Stock holders? and thats a big “If”? if the deal dies? it could hurt everyone involved. including T-Customers! this is complex and hard to predict how it will end.

  • switchola

    Wow, teach it bud! That is a great article.

  • Mystrobiggz

    AT&T is garbage! Love Tmobile, but again, I will be exercising my recently found out, 22% discount with Verizon as soon as my contract is up.

    • remixfa

      you do realize that if your on Tmobile, going to VZW for a 22% discount still means your paying around 20% more than Tmobile anyways right? LOL.

  • True talk

    Enough wining. Yes there are obstacles to overcome and the power house that they would become would make those obstacles easy. How about we stop funneling our money to the germans and make our own economy stronger.

    • Auser72

      tell that to all the american tmobile employees that will be out of work. and the used of outsourced customer service by att. American Corporation have been selling us out for years. With american taxpayers subsidies.

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

        Actually, to be fair, there is a trend in returning jobs back to America because the non-tangible (and some tangible) costs are starting to outweigh the benefits of outsourcing. AT&T has been bringing back more and more centers in the USA, probably at the CWA’s insistence too… Though Verizon stubbornly keeps outsourcing…

    • http://twitter.com/ITMedCEO Derrick Ford

      Yeah and leave that BMW or Mercedes on the Lot. NOT!!!!

  • No to ATT

    I will not contribute a single penny to AT&T, so will cancel all of our T-Mobile plans (3) immediately upon AT&T take-over. I have done everything I can over the last 10 years to avoid the horror of AT&T, after a series of experiences that pushed us to specifically take action to avoid them. This merger is a direct offense, and forces AT&T down the throats of those who chose T-mobile to avoid AT&T in the first place. AT&T service and product deficiencies and high costs produced the success of T-mobile. AT&T should be forced to fail under the weight of their own failures, not expand and grow through acquisition of those who are superior to it in every way. This merger is simply wrong and should not be approved or supported in any way.

  • Mszukala

    as tmobile customers, if we cancel our contract with in the term we are charged a fee. i feel tmobile should buy out all of our contracts for that same reason, and its per line. they are leaving us. im sure there could be some sort of law suit. just like one reader said its a breach of contract

  • Alaintucker

    I for one am against the merger. The thought of ATT (aka Ma Bell) coming back is scary. Did the goverment not break up the company several years ago so that competition would be fostered and to give consumers a choice and to make the companies compete for the consumers business? Was it not meant to give consumers a break in high pricing by forcing the companies to be competitive? If the merger goes thru, the consumers will lose because we would have to deal with two telecomunication giants, ATT and Verizon. Sprint is not really a choice and would probably be gobbled up by Verizon in the near future. As for the smaller servers, Boost, Metro PCS, and Virgin, they probably will fold up in the future because they cannot compete with the larger companies. T-Mobile has been the dark horse that has kept the larger companies in check as far as pricing goes. If we lose T-Mobile then we lose the one company that has kept the two larger companies honest.

    • Slayer9

      FYI all those smaller servers/carriers are all owned either by Sprint or Verizon.

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

        Sprint only owns MVNOs, Verizon actually owns MNOs, which makes them worse.

  • Anonymous

    What if verizon bought tmo? What would we do?

    • Blacksheep427

      you could call me free. :) Conan, still a good article.

  • TMoFan

    The thought of my T-Mobile being eaten alive by at&t is depressing!

    This was a great read, and I agree. If this thing does go through it will be harmful to consumers, and T-Mobile customers. However, DT is pretty determined to get rid T-Mobile USA and if this doesn’t happen I don’t think they will have a change of heart.

  • Guest

    I’d like to correct something:

    “Additionally, AT&T does practice grandfathering when it does acquisitions. Existing T-Mobile customers will never be forced off their current plans, even when they do phone upgrades into 4G LTE.”

    That is only partially true. When Cingular bought AT&T, At&T customers were only able to keep their old plans as long as they did not renew their contract. As an employee at a Cingular corporate store at the time, our systems did not even allow us to see their old plans. We had to migrate them to the Cingular system which forced customers to get a new phone, sim card, and rate plan.

    No one was forced to switch of course but it made it almost impossible for people to stay. The longer they stayed with their old blue plan, the better offers Cingular mailed them to want them to switch over to an orange plan.

  • Antbankz23

    holy crap conan what did you start! tmo usa all the way!

  • Levin49

    Please help and stop this merger from happening by signing my petition. Thank you.

  • Fierma

    At&t is the worst cell phone company on the planet with more dropped calls and the worst customer service to date. I will cancel my service if this happens. PLEASE DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN

  • Addicus

    Thank you for the information. I was unaware that Deutsche Telekom was purposely shrinking it’s holdings and responsibilities and that TMobile USA would gain such a windfall from this merger/buyout being blocked or cancelled.

  • theiphonesucks

    while I did not understand half of what you said I completely agree that they should not be allowed to purchase t-mobile..

  • Xthing1n2x

    Truly a terrible article – I can’t believe this was posted on T-MoNews. I’m very knowledgeable with technology and I had to google what femtocells were… really, please if you’re a true customer make it simple so that the true customers that read this forum can understand. Secondly, there are not 300 different phones that you can buy DIRECTLY from T-Mobile or AT&T – each website for each carrier does list the only current phones available and if I can count correctly it doesn’t surpass 100. Yes AT&T can acquire cheap 4GLTE phones but think about it, anyone on their right mind wouldn’t wanna buy the crappy phones that Motorola, Hawuei and Sony Ericsson make. The bottom line is that a real consumer will come in to buy an HTC, Blackberry, Samsung, and lastly an LG phone. Motorola is dead and so is Nokia and Hawuei is more like WHOwei? So thanks for your opinion it wasn’t anything we didn’t already know. How about TMO news posts a true way where we can all boycott this stupid acquisition. AT&T will ONLY grandfather the plans of the customers IN CONTRACT and when contract is UP you will be automatically changed to their current plans or you can leave AT&T. They are the crappiest company in the world and I regret they are the only GSM carrier if Tmo goes out of business. YOu are correct that DTelekom just wants out of the USA these Germans are sell outs, but again what more can u expect from them… whatever. I truly WISH there was something we could do as customers and reps. The only choice is to sit and wait and watch us get screwed bc big fish eats little fish. End of story.

    • Barkfark

      Dislike. You’re saying it wasn’t anything you already knew, but you had to google femtocells. If you’re on this site, you should have a diverse background to know what he is talking about; you can’t call an article terrible simply cause you don’t understand it. By the service agreement you sign, no one can just “change your plan” without an option out.
      Otherwise, I find it pretty humorous you tried to count all the devices; you realize there are referbs available that arn’t on the site?

    • mulattoboy

      “Motorola is dead”

      If you were knowledgeable about technology you wouldn’t even make that statement. Motorola (for once) jumped on the front edge of a wave (Android) and has bet the farm on it. Droid, Droid2, DroidX, Dext/Cliq show that Moto is far from dead. They are a major player in the Android device market. We all know that the evil “V” would not stake a major piece of their smartphone business with a vendor that could not deliver.

      As bad as Motoblur was (or is), it was actually the first attempt at Social Network integration on Android devices. HTC followed with FriendStream in Sense, but Moto was first. If anything Android has stoked the innovative fire that was dying at Motorola since they rested on their laurels after the RAZR.

      “The bottom line is that a real consumer will come in to buy an HTC, Blackberry, Samsung, and lastly an LG phone.”

      Another stunningly ignorant comment. To the editorial point, so many devices (carrier selection not withstanding) wouldn’t exist if your assertion were true. The fact that there are two major GSM carriers in the US allows device manufacturers to provide a wider array of devices more cheaply since in most cases all that’s required is a small radio tweak to port the device for the US market. This is Economics 101, economies of scale. To this point, allowing AT&T to absorb T-Mobile would hurt device selection and pricing because all carriers by necessity offer a limited selection of devices across categories (dumbphone, featurephone, smartphone) so that they can get volume pricing. The trick is selecting a device lineup with broad appeal. Also, the marketing practices of disallowing sideloading of apps, locking bootloaders, IMEI checks etc., means that they can also further restrict the access of unlocked/jailbroken/rooted devices to their network if they so choose, which hurts the sale of unlocked devices via third parties.

      A “Real Customer” will buy whatever they can afford or whatever meets their needs. Broad generalizations are just plain stupid, especially if you read the comments on these blogs with any regularity. The fear with this acquisition is that Real Customers will lose the openness that T-Mobile allows. Seriously, what other carrier’s Customer Service would actually help you set up a competitor’s device to work on their network?

  • Orge1126

    dont understand either, but whatever you were complaining about ATT were so true….

  • dani26286

    Thank you very much for taking the tame to submit such a detailed and acurate article.
    Thank you ver very much sir!!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/house3272 Cesare Zhao

    Everyone should send this to the FCC website:


    No limitations on character count it seems.

    • Baltham

      Thanks for that link! I was on their site the other night, but couldn’t find anything like that with which to submit my opinion.

      Rather than cut/paste into the box, though, I would suggest instead that you just paste the link in, and then state your OWN reasons you are against (or, if you’re evil, for =P) the acquisition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-George/1607776603 John George

    the only thing good about t mobile is the girl they hired to do their commercials! t mobile rips eve one off on a daily basis and the fcc don’t do their job to protect you! t mobile is trash! john george columbus ohio

    • Pedro Alicea

      Completely disagree. I have been with T-mobile for over 4 years now. For unlimited minutes, data and texting, I pay only 75 dollars. That’s it. The phone has never failed on me and if I ever did have a problem, I could call T-mobile and they would either help me fix it or send me a new one. ATT on the other hand, caused all sorts of problems. In 2001/2002 (don’t remember) when GSM first came out, I was assured by ATT store employees that GSM would suffer no roaming charges. A month later, staying in my home city, I was charged over 600 dollars in roaming charges. I contact ATT concerning the charges and they said that roaming could occur in a home city when utilizing another carrier’s tower. When I told them what the salesperson had said, they told me that an ATT salesperson would never had said that. Luckily the salesperson backed me up (I bought two phones from them on the GSM plan) and I canceled the contract. I left ATT, shopped around with Sprint, Verizon and finally settled on T-mobile. Have been happy ever since.

      • Dave

        Same thing happened to me around that time where I was promised no roaming charges with in my own city. Surprise, surprise over $600 in roaming charges! Never again did I deal with AT&T. Never will.

        • networkdood

          In 2001 and 2002, there were still plans for nation and regional roaming. Now, there are only national roaming plans. Salespeople do lie quite a bit, though.

  • Lee

    I used to have an Iphone with AT&T then I ran into some financial problems and my phone was shutoff for 2 months by them. When I got my fanancial problems fixed and called AT&T to pay the bill and get my phone back I couldn’t believe how much they wanted. They wanted me to pay for the 2 months of service that the phone service was OFF before they would turn it back on, I told them they could go screw themselves they weren’t getting a dime till they took off the 2 months I had no service. Been with T-Mobile ever since I despise AT&T. T-Mobile is much better at everything and would never do such a thing.

    • Tree Frogs

      That practice is pretty much industry standard. If you sign a contract to pay for X months of service, why should you be released from your contracted liability simply because the service was cancelled due to non payment? If you don’t pay your car payment for 2 months. You’ll have to pay those months regardless of whether or not you drive the car. Pretty simple.

      • Lee

        Sprint,verizon,and tmobile don’t charge you for the time your service is turned off, only at&t. Monthly charges stop as soon as the phone service is turned off and an early termination fee charged. They don’t charge you for 2 months of service you didn’t get and then charge you the early termination fee. Cell service is a service not physical property like a car so doesn’t make sense to compare the two like they are.

        T-mobile is better than,at&t by far. If you made a ranked list of the top four, ranked by how well they treat their customers, T-mobile would be at the top and at&t would be at the bottom. They will ruin tmobile and all their customers will be the ones to suffer.

        • Khaos58

          Straight up true!

        • networkdood

          No, it is not. That is the problem with these posts – people posting garbage to make themselves feel important – big bad AT&T is going down now…..whooohoooo…..even with a second carrier having the iphone, AT&T does just fine. I may be switching to SPRINT soon. People have a choice in carriers…..stop the whining, the crying, the ‘whoa as me’ stuff – these phones are a luxury, not a neccesity.

        • networkdood

          Dude, you are a straight up liar – AT&T does not and they cannot add months to a contract if your services are suspended. You are just spewing garbage to propel the media hype. Be a man and get your facts straight.

    • Khaos58


  • ayin

    neither at&t nor tmobile is in business to make friends. their only purpose is to make money. they couldn’t care less about your griping so long as you continue to give your money. as soon as the merger is complete pink slips will be going out worldwide. if you want to feel better about the inevitable i suggest you start acquiring stock because no one is going to stop this money from being made. btw if you work for tmo is suggest you update your resume.

  • Anonymous

    Nice read. Rather than being entirely opinion based, it had a lot of good factual information. Props to the author.


  • gmd

    “AT&T also doesn’t really get open networks and open solutions. Their Android devices are locked down, with sideloading blocked. They are the only carrier in the world that does that, by the way.”

    Have you been to Canada lately? Not sure about sideloading (I’m sure Rogers gets into that), but all three (Rogers, Bell and Telus) have been locking their devices since 2G.


    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (???????)

      Locking and locked down refer to two different things. The SIM subsidy lock is standard practice among all carriers across the world, even prepaid ones. What I’m referring to is AT&T’s practice of crippling Android devices further in the firmware.