Grass Roots Effort Grows to Block Buyout

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-03-26 Print this article Print

But while there's a lot going for this merger on paper, I don't think the respective wireless companies are anticipating a widespread customer revolt. If AT&T were to determine that they would lose a significant portion of T-Mobile's existing customer base when they suddenly migrate to Verizon Wireless because they want a real network with real customer service more than they want GSM, they might change their corporate minds. Or they might not. To AT&T, the customers represent a revenue stream. If the company decides it needs spectrum more than a revenue stream, it's not going to care about customer defections.

But since this is at least partly about the spectrum, one of the things that AT&T does care about is getting those radio licenses. In a transfer of this size, this means that the FCC is going to have to approve the license transfer. This, in turn, means that the FCC will hold hearings. Hearings mean public input. Do you get my drift?

While it won't hurt to raise Hell with T-Mobile USA, it may not help as much as you might think. T-Mobile is owned by the faceless, but financially troubled, Deutsche Telekom, located in Bonn. When you scream in Bellevue, Wash., where T-Mobile USA is located, nobody in Bonn can hear you.

But they might hear you if you voice your opposition at the Department of Justice hearings on the antitrust issues. They might hear you if you voice your opposition to your member of Congress or your Senator (be sure to write your letter on paper instead of sending an e-mail, include your address to confirm that you're a constituent, sign it and send the letter by mail, or even better, by FedEx) and be there to support Sprint CEO Dan Hesse when he testifies before Congress.

You can also visit this Website created by people opposed to the T-Mobile buyout and sign the petition. Of course, you can even write a letter when the FCC opens its process to public comment. Check on the FCC Website to find out when this will happen.

Ultimately, though, some of us will be effectively screwed. We live in areas where we depend on WiFi calling, which AT&T is sure to terminate or we only have one T-Mobile cell site that AT&T will probably close or convert to Long-Term Evolution technology, which we can't use because our T-Mobile phones don't do LTE. So instead of having the best service available, we'll have no service at all. I guess I'll have to ask Verizon Wireless how much it costs to buy a nano-cell, and pack away my T-Mobile phones for trips out of the U.S. I'll bet service will disappear here before the year is out if this merger goes through. 


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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