Networks

Downside Theater: Pessimistic Reactions to the AT&T, T-Mobile Merger

thumbs down Downside Theater: Pessimistic Reactions to the AT&T, T Mobile MergerAT&T’s decision to buy T-Mobile has been praised, by AT&T, as the right decision for the company, one that may improve service for both carriers. In the press release AT&T notes the deal “makes T-Mobile USA, currently a German-owned US telecom network, part of a US-based company.”

But not everyone is so patriotic.

Anil Dash was quick with the monopoly joke: “On the plus side, it’ll be fun to watch the government break up AT&T again in a few years. Keeps re-forming like the T1000 in Terminator 2.”

As was Tim Wu, an authority on the subject: “AT&T seems to have been reading [my book about how information companies trend toward monopolies] the Master Switch.”

On CNN, Gizmodo’s Matt Buchanan also made monopoly noises, noting that the deal is especially bad because it takes one of the cheaper carriers out of the equation. Even worse, he says, the deal is likely to go through because the idea of widespread 4G LTE coverage is “catnip for regulators.”

Peter Rojas of GDGT had a list of parties for whom the merger will be negative, including consumers, phone makers and Sprint, speaking as a current T-Mobile subscriber. “Once this deal closes,” he writes, “I don’t expect to continue to pay as little as I have been, or to keep my unlimited data plan, and I suspect AT&T (and Verizon!) will be happy to see a low-priced competitor out of the market and will find it easier to raise or maintain prices.”

Dave Tisch and Ben Lerer took a light-hearted approach to the whole thing, with the following respective Twitter postings:

“FTC should really look into this… Now AT&T will have a monopoly on shitty phone service…”

“Does this mean myAT&T iPhone will be able to make actual phone-calls now?”

MarketWatch’s Brett Arends denounced the merger in fairly extreme terms, urging concerned citizens to write their representatives in Congress. “Oh, and get ready for ‘merger misery,’” he wrote, “These deals are always bad for the consumer. Think of Sprint and Nextel. Think of FedEx and Kinko’s.”

And, finally, Peter Kafka pointed out that those recent T-Mobile ads may be a little awkward given the new partnership.

Stay tuned for more pessimism, and merger developments.

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