AT&T Gobbles T-Mobile—Becomes Largest Wireless Co by Far

By Patrick Morgan | March 21, 2011 10:01 pm

What’s the News: Yesterday, AT&T announced plans to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion from parent company Deutsche Telekom, making the new behemoth the hands-down largest wireless company in the United States. Though AT&T touts this merger as good for everyone, some technology writers, such as GigaOM’s Om Malik write that “it’s hard to find winners, apart from AT&T and T-Mobile shareholders.”

What’s the Context:

  • AT&T says the combined skills of the two companies will improve high-speed mobile broadband service and extend coverage to more rural communities, achieving President Obama’s goal of connecting “every part of America to the digital age.”
  • With T-Mobile’s 33.7 million wireless subscribers, AT&T will have 129.2 million subscribers, dwarfing Verizon Wireless’s 94.1 million. So begins a new chapter in the companies’ long-term rivalry, as previously covered in 80beats.
  • T-Mobile is the fourth-largest mobile provider in the U.S., and offers cheaper plans than category leaders AT&T and Verizon.

Not So Fast: The company merger is still awaiting regulator approval. Some argue that the bigger AT&T will hurt smaller companies like Sprint and even larger ones like Google. “Sprint and T-Mobile often stood against AT&T and Verizon on a variety of regulatory issues, so if AT&T succeeds, Sprint will stand alone on special access and other issues,” writes Malik. With more power, it’ll be easier for AT&T to “impose its own will” on what services and apps are placed on Android smartphones. If the FCC or Justice Department agree that the acquisition will give AT&T too much power or lead to higher prices, they may veto the deal.

Image: AT&T

  • nick

    I’m pretty sure that AT&T, unfortunately, has enough political access bought that we can safely say “Hello … whoever’s left.”

    I bounced from Cingular after AT&T owned them and their service went from meh to bleh.

    They’re also gonna shtcan 3g on T-Mobile’s network in favor of 4g, so my nicely working 1st gen Android phone will become garbage after surving for 2 years now + however long it takes them to put this deal in the bucket and then can 3g.

  • Rabidmob

    I chose t-mobile because they had an actual unlimited data plan…

  • Sieben Stern

    i don’t think we need more consolidation – bigger companies aren’t good for the consumer, competition is. :/

  • Brian Too

    Does anyone remember divestiture?

  • rosin

    I chose t-mobile because they had an actual unlimited data plan…

  • Aly

    I chose T Mobile because they werent AT&T.

    Just what we need. More companies too big to fail.

  • No No No Plz

    129.2 million subscribers out of a nation of 300 million people. I do not like it at all. Too much is too much.


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