News Analysis: Now that antitrust suits have nearly slammed the door on AT&T's attempt to take over its competitor, T-Mobile needs a path to the future. Maybe it's time to find a way to grow independently.
Perhaps the most stunning
revelation to come out of the mess surrounding the filing of antitrust lawsuits
U.S. Department of Justice and Sprint Nextel
is the fact that T-Mobile's
owner, Deutsche Telekom, apparently doesn't have a Plan B.
Apparently, it never
occurred to DT's German ownership that the U.S. government would have other
ideas. This is perhaps the best illustration that Deutsche Telekom never really
understood Americans or the U.S. business environment. Perhaps now they're
getting a glimmer.
Of course, it's possible
that AT&T convinced DT's managers that this merger was a done deal-that
once AT&T spread some of its billions of dollars around the U.S. political
scene, there would be no opposition. If DT believed that, then that's yet
another indication that they really didn't understand the U.S. The problem is,
when the merger is turned down-and it will be-T-Mobile is left without any
place to go.
Don Reisinger suggested that T-Mobile should merge with Sprint
, but that option is fraught with problems
ranging from market concentration to incompatible networks. There has also been
a suggestion that
Google should buy T-Mobile
, which could make sense, if only because that
would let Google have its own mobile means of application and data delivery to
go with its hardware and software businesses.
After all of this, would
T-Mobile be in a position to pick up the pieces and move forward on its own?
Interestingly, it might. If you've been watching what T-Mobile is up to lately,
you'd see that the company is aggressively seeking new business; it's started
up a new small and medium business effort, and it's offering a lot of new
phones to go with T-Mobile's ads that claim the largest, fastest 4G network in
the U.S. This doesn't sound to me like a company that's ready to throw itself
into the arms of the next available suitor.
It's also worth noting that
there are a number of things that T-Mobile hasn't done while the legal
maelstrom has swirled around it. One thing it hasn't done is comment on much of
anything. While T-Mobile's Washington, D.C., lobbyist has spouted the AT&T
party line a couple of times and Deutsche Telekom has said that it's committed
to the merger, T-Mobile itself has said nothing. The company has simply continued
to introduce new phones, including the first 4G BlackBerry. An internal memo
has urged employees to proceed on course, as if the merger didn't exist.