AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson announces his company's proposal to buy T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom in New York. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
I spent a fair bit of time last week combing over AT&T's first T-Mobile merger filin
g, a 381-page document that lays out exactly why the carrier thinks the $39 billion merger will be good for consumers, competition, and America. It's an interesting document: AT&T claims that the merger won't have any real impact on the wireless market because it already faces serious competition from every carrier except T-Mobile, which it repeatedly characterizes as a doomed company. After all, if T-Mobile is already failing, allowing AT&T to swallow it whole won't change the overall level of competition in the market. It's audacious, to say the least.
Now, most people -- including me -- think this argument is preposterous. There are only four national carriers in this country, and approved or not, the end result of the T-Mobile merger process will have a significant effect on the wireless market. The only people who think otherwise all apparently work at AT&T, and a growing chorus of critics say the merger should be blocked on the grounds that it will reduce competition and result in a AT&T / Verizon duopoly ruling the market. My friend Chris Ziegler lays the anti-merger argument out in detail
, and it's convincing, to say the least.
Regardless, I still think the merger should be approved. Yes, I really do. Why? Because the current state of the US wireless market sucks
. It sucks hard
. AT&T is straight-up lying when it says that there's "fierce" and "intense" competition in the wireless market. There's not -- and the carriers do everything they can to keep it that way, while insisting that the smartphone device explosion is evidence of competition at the service level. It's a shell game that's actively hindered the development of mobile technology and services, and the FCC and DOJ have the opportunity to blow it up by attaching significant conditions to merger approval.
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