Parker: AT&T should merge with T-Mobile

By Parker Happ

The merger of wireless giant AT&T with T-Mobile will prove to benefit customers wanting more from their carrier.

If the merger occurred, AT&T would pass Verizon as America’s largest wireless company with approximately 129 million customers compared to Verizon’s 102.2 million customers. However, a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit halted any development on the deal citing that an AT&T/T-Mobile merger would “result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for mobile wireless services.”

The idea that AT&T would produce a “lower quality wireless product” is a shortsighted evaluation. It’s all about the network in the wireless industry and the acquisition of T-Mobile’s network is key if AT&T wanted to expand service from 3G to 4G as well as incorporate LTE technology. In the last three years, data traffic on AT&T networks has increased by close to 8,000 percent.

While T-Mobile claims their network is 4G, which is a matter of debate, there is a consensus in the tech community that the increase in towers would substantially decrease the amount of dropped calls for consumers and increase service and satisfaction overall.

So why does Washington hate AT&T winning so much? The DOJ pointed to the “lack of choices” in the event of an AT&T merger. This also is fallacy.

If consumers wanted a different wireless choice entirely, Skype, Vonage, Boost or Cricket all offer lower cost packages for consumers not necessarily interested in contract deals with wireless giants. If contracts are not an inconvenience, Sprint and Verizon remain choices.

As far as the DOJ’s claims that consumers will potentially face higher prices, this is only partially true. AT&T does not allow the unlocking of phones, unlike T-Mobile, for international subscribers and charge roaming fees for all international calls. For international travelers on a budget (which seems like a mild contradiction), here’s a fix: buy a $20 prepay while in London next time and load it with a few minutes for calling. AT&T does not offer unlimited plans and their cap is 2GB of data. They do, however, offer rollover for unused minutes, something T-Mobile does not do.

At the end of the day, isolating and demonizing AT&T for wanting to grow its wireless business is disheartening. If the DOJ were legitimately worried about competition in the wireless industry, it may look to break up the market share of the big four (Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), who currently hold 90 percent of the American market. No matter, President Obama wanted to play politics and sicced the DOJ dogs on AT&T.