Over this weekend AT&T got hungry. To address it’s desire for a snack it has bid a staggering $39 billion to acquire T-Mobile USA. There’s a ton of analysis and commentary about this appearing online. Anyone who is not working for the two companies seems to think that this deal is bad for customers. That’s my position as well.
I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for the past five years. I’ve been consistently impressed with the companies customer service ethic. They didn’t always have the best handsets, or the best coverage, but they handled me in a manner that made me feel good about doing business with them.
My experience with T-Mobile is in marked contrast to my experience with AT&T. About a dozen years ago AT&T and my then fiancé had a disagreement about a long distance bill. It stemmed from an accounting error. The amount of the bill was trivial, but their handling of the matter was reprehensible, even border-line illegal.
When the matter was finally resolved I vowed that the company would not get another dollar from our family….and they haven’t.
When AT&T later bought Cingular I switched our cellular service to Verizon Wireless. I stayed with VZW for a few years, until my occasional need to travel in Europe made a GSM phone a practical necessity.
When AT&T bought SBC it drove us to drop our last land lines. For the home & office phones we’ve been 100% pure VoIP since then.
For cellular service I originally chose T-Mobile because their rates were simply the most competitive of the two GSM-based carriers. That remains true today. T-Mobile is the one carrier the delivered some competition within the North American GSM realm. In some small way they countered the dominance of AT&T.
Recently I’ve been making considerable use of tethering to my T-Mobile issued G2. This capability was added without requiring an additional option on my “unlimited” plan. Would that have happened with AT&T?
In the end, I’m doubtful that AT&T will retain the competitive & customer service stances that made T-Mobile a better carrier. I also fear the reality of there being only one GSM-based carrier in the US. That seems to consolidate too much power into on set of CxO suites. that’d be bad for customers, but equally bad for equipment suppliers.
I certainly hope that the regulators put in their teeth when it comes time to consider this deal. They need to take a good, long look and ensure that it serves the interest of customers beyond AT&T’s iPhone-wielding justifiably-irate mob.
Failure to consider this transaction carefully could one day result in what would be known as T-Mobile’s “Even Less” plan.