Making Your Voice Heard

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-03-29 Print this article Print


It will be one-third the size of the new AT&T, half the size of Verizon Wireless, and the merger will be a real threat to its continued existence. It's very easy to see how Sprint could easily become a take-over target itself if the AT&T-T-Mobile deal happens. 

And then, of course, we have a duopoly. I can't think of a single good thing about creating such an effective lock on the U.S. wireless business. Once such a duopoly happens, higher prices, worse service and poor coverage are a certainty. After all, choice will be effectively eliminated. This is probably what Sprint is going to talk about, but it's also what you should think about. 

There are other ways you can make your voice heard. If your state regulators are planning to look at the deal (as is the case in New York) you can try to provide comments to them. You can buy a share of stock in AT&T (it's selling for about 30 bucks a share these days) and go to the annual meeting and complain. As I've mentioned before, you can express your concerns about the threat to the competitive landscape, potential damage to consumers, or expected rise in prices to your representatives in Congress. You can assume that if your Congressman gets enough heat from constituents about the merger, they'll pay attention. 

The biggest problem for those who oppose the AT&T-T-Mobile merger, however, is the appearance of success. Both companies are doing their best to make the merger appear to be a done deal. It seems to be inevitable. But the fact is, it's not inevitable. In fact, the resulting company looks a lot like the Ma Bell of days of yore - the company that the Justice Department went to a lot of trouble to break up. With enough of the right opposition, it might not happen at all. 

But to be effective, opponents need to do more than write comments to me (although those are deeply appreciated) or express outrage in multiple Tweets. It will take a lot of work by people who stand to lose because of the merger to get their views known. It will take a lot of companies that stand to lose business-or even go out of business. 

It will take thousands of people who stand to lose their wireless service completely to get the regulators' attention. Remember, this isn't being done to help all of those iPhone users who caused AT&T's problems in the first place; those iPhones won't work on the former T-Mobile network's 3G frequencies. It's being done to consolidate control of half of the wireless service in the United States. It's Ma Bell on the rise again. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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