AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Says T-Mobile Merger Immediately Improves Reliability

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T reiterated that the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile deal would not create a “duopoly” as most customers have five or more mobile choices and that costs would decline further as mobile broadband traffic grows. Someone needs to tell me where Randall Stephenson gets his fairy magic. His belief is that the overnight addition of T-Mobile to the AT&T portfolio is going to “immediately improve mobile phone reliability by increasing capacity 30% immediately.” T-Mobile runs an independent network until the day the deal closes so I’m having a hard time buying his viewpoint that overnight coverage would improve.

Stephenson stated that by combining the cell sites over the next five years coverage would further increase down the road. Stephenson then reiterated one of the foremost points of the merger with a combined AT&T and T-Mobile capable of covering 95% of the population with wireless broadband coverage.

In response to a  question from a Reuters reporter regarding the New York Attorney General expressing concern over the proposed deal, Stephenson stated that was in fact wrong as most New York residents have a choice of six providers. There is an expectation from AT&T that the government will review the deal on a “market-by-market” level. In particular, areas like Miami (I can personally attest to this), Detroit and San Francisco where T-Mobile isn’t even in the top 4 competitors.

The bottom line is that AT&T faces a tough and uphill battle in closing this deal and will likely have to divest a lot of spectrum to the competition. Even so, Stephenson is prepared to do just that in order to gain the bulk of T-Mobile’s spectrum.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

  • Anonymous

    His comments make no sense.

    • Chase

      It does make sense.

      • Anonymous


  • Tyrone M Jackson

    Given that AT&T claimed it’s present networks are already saturated in major cities like New York and San Francisco, adding T-Mobile and offloading traffic to it probably will improve reliability – for AT&T customers whose phones are able to function on the T-Mobile network infrastructure. But it will degrade reliability for the T-Mobile customers as AT&T’s infrastructure, already saturated, offers no bandwidth even if the T-Mobile phone is compatible with it.

  • Anonymous

    I am tired of Verizon and AT&T always becoming friends the moment a divestiture is needed, in order to gain some type of approval. Give someone else a try.

    Verizon knows they don’t need anymore PCS or AWS spectrum. They have a huge chunk of 700MHz spectrum for LTE.

    I am sorry, but the FCC, DoJ, and FTC needs to put Verizon and AT&T in their place, when it comes to gobbling up spectrum, just to own it and not utilize it.

  • Mopar6464

    Randall , please share the meds or get off them.
    No one is going to buy that bullshit !

  • Physboy

    It’s BULLSNARKLE any way you slice it. CEO dude knows exactly what this will do. Get ready for price fixing in 3, 2, 1,…..

  • I’m looking at this whole situation and the best way to make our voices heard will be to speak with our wallets……The minute I see one inkling of funny biz from at&t I’m gone……In the meantime, Sprint, step your coverage game up as you need to be prepared for a potential mass exodus from tmo by its potential former customers customers….and at the very least Sprint needs to do all it can to trigger a mass exodus…..

  • Are we supposed to eat this BS sandwich with a smile on our face? All i hear from his mouth is “control, money, money, control.”

  • meh

    With mobile broadband traffic increasing we are going to see a decrease in the price??? Hmmm. I thought as a product gets more popular the price will drop…. that is when there aren’t as many providers and you have more price control over the product.

  • Meagan

    The change will bring;
    higher monthly bills,
    no wifi calling,
    no @home service,
    and 95m people more people to share cell tower pie.

    • RiverRat

      Have you heard or read something about uma and @home service going in the toilet?

    • Dewey Cox

      If @Home was that successful, they would not have gotten rid of it.

  • BigMixxx

    “Stephenson then reiterated one of the foremost points of the merger with a combined AT&T and T-Mobile capable of covering 95% of the population with wireless broadband coverage.” I keep seeing this and I keep saying the same thing…net neutrality must be addressed quickly…

    Dude has a vision, but does not really wanna say where it is….there has to be a data roaming agreement coming in the near future.

  • Turdnugget0420

    How about he and TMO’s CEO talk about why they are offering severance packages to employees currently with TMO?

    You think TMO has good customer service now…wait till all their talent leaves to other companies.

    • guest

      They are also offering retention bonuses…. you failed to mention that one.

  • Dude

    yea, because ATT sucks major _ss….and it’s T-Mobile that’s saving their bacon…

  • Rage

    how the hell can 40 facebook peeps like this? wow! i wish we had a thumbs DOWN!

    • sidekicker89

      so basically no matter what happens T-Mobile will be gone right? it’s basically going to be what Cingular is today.. non-existing?!? thats not right at all!

      • Anonymous

        Actually, Cingular *IS* AT&T!! It was Cingular who BOUGHT OUT AT&T and then decided to KEEP their name (since the name goes back to the 1800s!!)

  • Anonymous

    one article I read mentioned a “cancellation deal” that *if* the merger falls through, AT&T STILL has to give some concessions (including free roaming agreements) to AT&T. perhaps they can (and ARE) implementing those agreements now!! espcially for the 2G shared bands

  • Positive thoughts people, lol. We need to believe this is not gonna happen, not “when it happens.” Let’s always be prepared for what is, but let’s keep thinking “it won’t”, lol.

  • Derrickps3

    i don’t care what he says, i’m gone if this merger go thru, my contract ends in sept 2011 too, oh yeah i’m as good as gone

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think anyone is buying into his BS, especially regulators or Washington decision-makers (e.g. Congress). This speech is more carefully crafted double-talk.

    The brouhaha is all about end-user prices, with amusement I noted the subject Stephenson was careful NOT to talk about. (For example, note he did not provide assurances nor even imply that the acquisition will result in AT&T decreasing prices to consumers. Nor did he say AT&T will NOT increase what the consumer pays, that is, after the acquisition.

    To be sure, I submit that anyone with an ounce of sense (which ain’t much since most of us have at least 15 ounces of it) knows that when AT&T gets its mitts on T-Mobile U.S. consumers are going to be paying higher prices, once AT&T gets itself in a solid position to jack up rates. I can hear it now:

    “AT&T needs to increase rates to pay for all the improvements it is providing users and to stay competitive.”
    Translation – AT&T needs to charge you more to:

    — Pay for the $39 billion it forked over for the T-Mobile acquisition.

    — Get back the money it had to pay for: payoffs to regulators and Congress; lobbyists; attorneys; mergers and acquisitions houses and facilitators; bankers; PR people; and paying off T-Mobile execs to “cooperate” and publicly act upbeat about the acquisition.

    Bonus Hooey Discussion (Available only to TMoNews Premium Members – The rest of you do not read below this line):

    — Stephenson tells his audience about international roaming charges. While trying to say something appealing to his presumed international audience or travelers, no one the U. S. or Washington (who are concerned about this deal) care about international roaming charges. Even then, note he did not say the acquisition WOULD result in lower IRC. That’s evasive and deceptive. He utters buzzwords and pat phrases that breakdown on thinking longer than five seconds about what he actually said or means.

    — He said that AFTER the acquisition with five or more carriers to choose from the U.S. wireless market will remain competitive. Standing alone that’s an unfounded statement (actually it’s a lie since Stephenson is fully aware of the state of wireless in the U.S. and that only Verizon and Sprint are actual AT&T. competitors.

    Adding to the bullsheet aspect of this speech, Stephenson contradicts himself in it.

    1 – It’s misleading to say small carriers, regionals, and prepaids are competitors against AT&T. (To be sure, Stephenson knows full well that carriers like Metro PCS are not competitors or a threat to AT&T nor any of the top carriers.). This is because of small carriers limitations related to handsets, coverage and signal (2G, 3G, vs. 4G).

    Handsets: One of the main reasons smaller carriers and regionals say they cannot compete against the major carriers is because the smaller carriers cannot get handsets such as the iPhone, EVO, Droid, or equivalent devices. It’s not a lack of money or desire that keeps smaller carriers from getting high-end handsets.

    It’s because manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and RIM are “forced” to give major carriers what I call a “soft exclusive” on high-end devices, that is, handsets SIMILAR to what a carrier is featuring.

    The “soft exclusive” does NOT relate to specific models like the iPhone, Droid series, or EVO. The manufacturers’ restriction is that manufacturers agree with major carriers that they will not produce for regionals and prepaids phones with specs similar to the high-end phones manufacturers sell to carriers. For example, Samsung can’t produce for Metro PCS a handset with specs similar to those found on the Samsung Galaxy S.

    Put another way, Metro PCS cannot call Samsung and say “Yes, this is Metro PCS, we would like to order three million handsets similar in specs to the Samsung Galaxy S II.” Instead, Metro PCS is stuck in March 2011 making a big deal out the Samsung Indulge.

    Sidenote: Yes, this “soft exclusive” is probably a violation of U.S. anti-trust laws and constitutes anti-competitive behavior, but if a smaller carrier is leasing spectrum from AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint, how likely is it you will sue the hand that feeds you, figuratively speaking.

    Coverage, Data, Hobson’s Choice: Stephenson makes a major point about post-acquisition improvement of coverage and data, and 4G. I submit that it’s disingenuous for Stephenson to say that AFTER the acquisition the U.S. market remains competitive because there’s more than five carriers from which the consumer can choose. That’s a false comparison by Stephenson since he knows full well the wireless competitive landscape..

    On this being a Hobson’s Choice for the consumer, while there may be other wireless carriers from which a consumer could choose, AT&T knows full well that the consumer will always go with AT&T, for example, because it presumably offers the widest coverage and/or most coveted handset. I mean, does can anyone seriously say that an iPhone owner, before purchasing it, was debating whether instead to get a clamshell from Metro PCS. For almost four years AT&T enjoyed (and got lazy) because it knew other carriers could not compete against it because AT&T had the iPhone.

    In regards to contradicting himself, in this same speech Stephenson says that in its present form AT&T, the second largest U.S. carrier, can’t deliver an adequate signal, 4G, nor the widest nationwide coverage. He implies, correctly, that getting a good signal (any time, anywhere,) is important to the consumer. (To be sure, as AT&T has found out, what good is an iPhone if it does not work or will not function most anywhere in the U.S.)

    If lack of signal strength, 4G data, and limited nationwide coverage make AT&T less competitive, doesn’t that mean that the remaining four carriers that Stephenson is referring to even are less competitive? So it’s dishonest for Stephenson to say that the U.S. market, AFTER the acquisition, would remain competitive.

    The fact is smaller carriers’ coverage issues won’t be remedied by $39 billion acquisitions nor by building their own nationwide 4G infrastructure. (E.g., Metro PCS, who is just now rolling out LTE “4G,” is limited to doing so in select large metropolitan areas, ONLY. Metro has said it will never be able to expand 4G service to geographic regions beyond major metropolitan areas, especially since companies like Metro are at the mercy of whatever they can “rent” a signal from major carriers.)

    If Metro PCS, with 8 million subscribers and as the fifth largest U.S. carrier, cannot get high-end handsets and 4G coverage to compete with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon, what does this say about these “lesser carriers” being able to compete against an even mightier post-acquisition AT&T.

    IMHO these realities makes Stephenson a snake oil salesman and this speech another turd to drop into AT&T’s bucket of bullsheet of late.

    That old saying comes to mind when reading stuff like this: “If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle em with your bullsheet.”

    Note: Have to leave, so I can’t proof this or spell check. Pardon for any errors. No disrespect intended.

    • ATL Guy

      Jesus dude can you ever just type a couple of sentences?

      • Anonymous

        LOL… dud… that’s what AT&T would like, that everyone just type a couple sentences and let this deal sail through. ;)

        Hint to low IQ flamers, just don’t read the posts and go back to watching your Police Academy DVDs.

        • Dewey Cox

          those might be too sophisticated for them…….plot twists and all.

    • Anonymous

      post of the year mike!

    • thebone

      mike…just shut up. nobody cares what u think. u and ur lame ass book size comments

      • Anonymous

        Actually, you are the one who is brain dead, since you don’t know why I am posting these book-size comments.

        Hint: Washington and others perform a Google search to determine relevant issues for their respective investigations and to also find the pulse of the community.

        Are you that stupid, to think that I am posting these comments for idiots like you to comment on. Man are you clueless to how the world and internet work.

        LOL… what a sheet for brains.

        • thebone

          WOW! SORRY MAN! i didnt know u were a virgin and that sitting behind ur little computer and typing books was ur life. HEY heres a great idea y dont u write a book title it MY LIFE YOUR ENTERTAINMENT.
          and in reguards to bending over….ur momma. ill be waiting for ur next novel. while i just stick to my sentences because i have better things to do with my time…HAVE A NICE DAY LOSER!

    • thebone

      or better yet y dont u “see my post” on how not to be a loser http//

  • Anonymous

    “immediately improve mobile phone reliability by increasing capacity 30% immediately.”

    AT&T’s intentions right now is to convince consumer/lawmakers to “think” it’s a great merger but the truth is, they are bullshitters!

    • ATL Guy

      you do realize that there are many many many people involved in this right?
      There isn’t some one almighty leader of AT&T.
      for Christ sakes there is so much paranoia on this forum it’s like all the tinfoil Hatter’s are having an orgy right now

  • Youngt82

    All it is is that At&t is not doing as well as before ,their network sucks and all they got is the iphone’s and that’s it. So they just trying to do whatever it takes to beat Verizon and be #1. Since they feel like T-Mobile isn’t doing very good since we’re #4 they’re just trying to embarrass us and use us like we some lame company well (t-mobile) I mean. I think the ceo of At&t needs to sit down and fall back and leave us alone and let us be :)

    • ATL Guy

      You might want to take a business class or 3.
      This isnt anything personal. Its called business.
      Companies buy companies.

    • Dewey Cox

      Let’s take your well thought out points in order:
      +AT&T has more customers than they ever did.
      + True, the network is lacking but so is ours.
      + Yes they only have the iPhone (not true, but for the sake of argument…ok) Thats like saying Einstein only had brains. That device (which I do not care for) was a game changer…still is.
      + Yes they are trying to beat Verizon. Thats called competition. Ford is trying to beat Chevy…so on and so on. We were trying to beat Verizon,AT&T and Sprint but we failed.
      + T-Mobiles OWNERS are selling WILLINGLY. How does that “embarrass “us.Yes they will use us. They are paying 39 billion to do so.
      + If AT&T did not make the offer ( again, no gun was held against DT’s head) and “let us be”, T-Mobile would be bought by a different player. Or worse yet, declare bankruptcy and be sold off piece by piece. That would be embarrassing. T-Mobile is not wanted by the people who own it.
      In closing, I am a T-Mobile devotee and do want want to see them go away but business is business. Your anger should be directed at DT and the people who ran T-Mobile ( by the way, how large was that golden parachute Dotson got?) all these years. There were numerous times, when things were more competitive that we could have jumped to # 3. Imagine where we would be if WE had gotten the iPhone.

  • I would bet with Cincinnati Bell being pretty big, that T-Mobile’s presence in Cincy might not be a #4 ranking either.

  • MagentaMadness

    Just a real quick tidbit…with a few strokes of the keys, we can open up the LAC’s and ATT customers can be on TMO’s network. Yes it can literally happen overnight.

  • Anonymous

    I think Ralph de la Vega is the only one drinking that magic fairy jungle juice you’re referring to.

    T-Mobile is either bought by AT&T (deal is approved) or they’ll be sold to another carrier/company (i.e., Sprint, Comcast, etc.). Deutsch Telekom clearly wants out of the U.S. market.

    • Spooln3

      Ya, thats why they will own 8% of AT&T and have someone sitting on their board. Clearly.. you.. are… right… :

      • Anonymous

        An 8% ownership stake in AT&T and a boardmember means absolutely nothing in the grander scheme of things. Deutsch Telekom will realistically have little power to affect any change or pursue any agenda to their benefit. 8% and a boardmember is akin to long-term investment. It’s not the same as running a retail business where your success is predicated on continuously gaining new customers and maintaining and upgrading an advanced telecommunications network. If, and/or when, Deutsch Telekom decides to exit the U.S. market with the sale of this relatively minuscule ownership stake, they will be able to do so with very few liabilities in place. It will also ultimately help them reduce debt, which is evidently a part of their reasoning for selling T-Mobile USA in the first place.

        Clearly, I’m not an idiot. I recommend you try using more ellipses. They make you look smart (not really).

  • Anonymous

    this guy is from the “Evil Empire” At&t,who is gonna believe him?only his followers not us.

    • ATL Guy

      WOW does that tinfoil hat interfere with you communicating with the mother ship?

      • Anonymous

        say whaaaat!?u know exactly what i meant.u didnt catch the drift :(

  • xxxJPxxx

    I would much rather have Vodafone sell their Verizon pecentage and buy T-Mobile than to be with At&t.

    • ATL Guy


  • TM97

    Seeing as all they have to do the day the merger is approved is to release roaming to each and every customer on either network, that would immediately improve coverage and reliability, at least on the 2G side.

    Then the slow process of deciding what stays and what goes will begin.

    3G and HSPA+ 42 are different animals. They’ll stay on air for a while, but shortly, they’ll be axed for LTE rollouts, probably within 6 months to a year.

  • mack

    Uh, genius. He’s talking about once the merger has been approved and the merger process begins. Just because your against the merger doesn’t mean you have to act like your typical bone head journalist.

    • Oh, you’re right…how silly of me. That’s not how its being interpreted.

      • Gusto

        Well David if you dont want to be criticized than maybe you should report and not commentate.
        “fairy dust”?
        That is the thing about a lot of bloggers they dont seem to know the difference.

  • Aerofanbig

    Scroll down to the bottom. Does anyone else find it odd that Comcast owns 1.7 and 2.1 spectrum…..could THAT be a possible move if the AT&T deal doesn’t work out?

  • ATL Guy

    I gotta say this is a most entertaining thing ever!!!
    I love all the conspiracy theories and paranoia running rampant on this forum!!
    Oh man it is so great!!!
    Keep it coming!!

  • Anonymous

    How is this supposed to work? T-Mobile’s 3G currently only runs on AWS. PCS Spectrum in some places only have 10MHz but getting these customers on AT&T GSM won’t be as much of a challenge.. the only way I see it adding capacity is if they add PCS 3G to all T-Mobile towers on the day that it happens.

  • dey1only

    he can go jump off a cliff while hes high off of his crazy meds


    Good posting, but I don’t know which Miami you are referring to that Tmobile is not even on the top 4, because if you are referring to Miami in Florida then you lost credibility by stating that you can attest to that…if there is a market where Tmobile is strong is Miami, and the state of Florida as a whole…I don’t mean is the leader, far from it, but it is usually on third place battling with Sprint…your fifth provider in this area is Metro PCS…Your post is accurate and I agree, but please edit this part as it is incorrect

  • TMOprophet

    Well if he’s talking with the Council on Foreign Relations…then that immediately reeks of suspicion. Those crooks are nothing but promoters of world government. I suspect they will endorse the deal..naturally as it consolidates the market into a duopoly and further restricts choices and innovation.

  • dh

    Ugh! This over-paid corporate liar is worse (i.e. more absurdly transparent & insincere) than even most politicians prior to an election. Why would anyone in their right mind believe a word that escapes from his duplicitous lips?

  • Anonymous
  • I hate how they’re just piggy backing off of T-mobiles services it makes me sick.

  • Anonymous

    Trust nothing Darth Stephenson says. He just wants to take an extra large chunk of change from you every month and put it into execs pockets rather than upgrade their network.

  • MT3GS

    CEOS are nothing more than overpaid PR execs – any tech guy would laugh in this guys face histaerically before he proceeded to slap it – Yes, douchebag, a monopoly is created because they will be the ONLY GSM provider in the US. We know our sh*t and we dont buy into any of your garbage!

    In other news, people thought I was crazy when I said CDMA is the cancer than is killing competitive phone service in the US – Lets see who is crazy now that you are left with one GSM provider!

    LTE is now all over the place – havent heard of any LTE-only devices that roam the world yet – what the hell is going on!? When will the fcc learn that they cant sell airwaves! And that one standard works better than 3 or 4!

    And you know what, at the end of the day, me and you get screwed by douchebags like this..and he will take your money and give you the cheapest most horrible service he can – and run a 1 billion dollar advertising campaign saying how good his network is, so the poor sucker that doesnt know anything can take my place when i finally get sick of the bs and move somewhere else

    I hate the way the wireless industry in the us is going!

    • Guest

      Lemme get your shirt that says victim see through wallow in your sadness

  • Itmustbejj

    Regarding your last sentence, spectrum is the LAST thing that AT&T should have to give to Sprint in a divestiture. Thanks to the Nextel acquisition by Sprint, Sprint currently has more spectrum than AT&T AND VERIZON COMBINED. All the divestiture speculation I read claimed AT&T would have to give up a large chunk of the T-Mo customer base to Sprint (which would piss me off to all end because I paid an ETF to leave Sprint for T-Mo).

    I seem to be in the minority of T-Mo customers that is optimistic about this deal. Everyone loves T-Mo customer care cuz they are pushovers because they have to be to be competitive. The truth is every carrier will give you what you want when faced with you leaving if you ask the right way. I look forward to the day when I have my grandfathered T-Mo plan on AT&T, and you can bet your ass I’m not giving it up when I renew my contract for a new phone after the merger.

    • Citytron

      So why didnt you go to AT&T when you left Sprint?

      • Itmustbejj

        Because T-Mo’s prices were better. I had AT&T before Sprint and they never screwed me, but they had no Android phones at the time worth a damn.

        • Jeffreygreen1315

          This just doesn’t make sense. If you had AT&T and left to go to Sprint, then left for T-Mo; now your clamoring for AT&T? Never should have left AT&T in the first place. Just doesn’t make sense!!!!
          This deal will be great for current AT&T customers because they will have less dropped calls! It’s T-Mo customers who get screwed. Worst customer service, higher prices and more dropped calls…….

        • Itmustbejj

          It makes perfect sense to me. It’s not that I don’t realize that T-Mobile has better customer service or lower prices, I’m just not all doom and gloom about the merger. There are benefits for both sides in the merger to be honest. AT&T has much lower spectrum bands that penetrates buildings better than the higher spectrum of T-Mobile. Yes wifi calling is nice, but it’s only useful when I have wifi available.

          And yes, AT&T will try to push you off your grandfathered plan when you upgrade, just like every carrier tries to do. Stick to your guns and talk to retentions and you will be fine though. Anyone relying on Level 1 CSRs to negotiate contracts might as well pay the price they offer on commercials.

        • Mrcoolgarcia


        • GlockBuster

          I also think it makes sense. Basically, once the merge is completed, ideally you’ll have a service that is currently better than AT&T’s network and T-Mobile’s network, but you’ll have it at T-Mobile’s current pricing. The reason T-Mobile is cheaper is because they’re smaller than the other 3 and do not have the coverage of AT&T or Verizon. So if you can lock in that discounted pricing, and then have the coverage of AT&T and T-Mobile combined, you can’t lose. If it goes through smoothly (probably not) than T-Mobile customers definitely are not getting screwed here.

    • Mrcoolgarcia

      is not what you want when you renew, is what ever att want to give you at that point , and the customer service may change too, yea i think you where right , your the minority in liking this deal , in fact you may be the only one besides the ceo of att

  • at&t hater

    This “dirtbag” doesn’t care about, lower prices, competition, coverage, or you the consumer. All he cares about is his bonus and his house in the Hamptons, etc.

  • lol. no more crapping on ATT I guess.