Will anything stop the AT&T-T-Mobile merger?

Executives at AT&T attend a news conference where it was announced that AT&T Inc. will be buying its wireless rival T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG for $39 billion in cash and stock on March 21, 2011 in New York City.

AT&T first announced plans to acquire its competitor, T-Mobile, back on March 20th of this year. The deal would eliminate one player in the wireless market, T-Mobile, and allow another player, AT&T, to absorb it. The Senate will be considering what kind of impact such a move would have on consumers who would be left with 25 percent less choice in choosing a wireless carrier. AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint CEOs will be on hand to testify. Sprint is going to say that this merger would create a duopoly and kill jobs. AT&T and T-Mobile will say that's not true. Verizon isn't showing up at all; it's chosen to largely stay out of the debate.

We talk to Susan Crawford, professor at Cardozo Law School. She says the only thing that will stop a merger like this is if people get irate about fewer choices and rise up and demand that it be stopped. But she doubts that such an issue will engender the kind of anti-trust fervor once volleyed against Standard Oil. She thinks that might be different if people traveled to other countries where Internet speeds are much faster than what we've grown accustomed to in the U.S.

We also talk with Larry Downes from the think tank Tech Freedom. He thinks that a merger of the two companies will mean that the new entity will have a better chance to serve customers a superior experience through a faster 4G network. Might not be such good news for T-Mobile customers, however, who would be bumped down to 3G.

Also in this program, South Korean scientists have found a way to convert sound into energy. They see it as a way to eventually power phones by talking into them or making loud noises. We look at the Good News and Bad News of this technology.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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What I said was that only Verizon has a nationwide 4G network. T-Mobile's 4G service is only available in major metropolitan areas.

Also, I didn't say the merger would mean that T-Mobile's 4G customers will be bumped down to 3G. AT&T says it plans to combine and reallocate the spectrum (in addition to spectrum it is in the process of buying from Qualcomm)to improve its existing 3G network and launch a truly nationwide 4G service.

@Keith - T-Mobile's 4G network runs on HSPA+. Its a type of HSDPA 3G technology. T-Mobile's standards were like this:

Originally its 3G network was 3.6mbps, then upgraded to 7.2mbps(completed), now being upgraded to 21mbps(provides "4G" speeds comparable to LTE/Wimax at 5mbps average, peaks of about 12mbps on phones), and finally, 42mbps in a few limited areas that can provide about 20+mbps with network load on a laptop stick.

So T-Mobile doesn't need extra spectrum, because their HSPA 7.2mbps is being *replaced* with HSPA+ 21mbps/42mbps, which is backwards compatible with 3G phones, too.

On your interview today Larry Downes said that neither T-Mobile nor AT&T have enough spectrum to offer a 4G network. T-Mobile claims to have the largest 4G network already . (http://t-mobile-coverage.t-mobile.com/?cm_mmc_o=Vzbp+mwzygt*-czyEwll*4bp...). I understand that someone could say that it is not really 4G because of some standards but it apparently provides 4G network speeds which of course requires spectrum. Was the comment meant to fool the average consumer into agreeing that the merger is a good idea or was Larry just not very knowledgable.

When Mama Bell was ordered to break up as a monoply of the phone system, competition grew and rates went way down.
To undo that good work will mean less competition and higher rates which is not a good thing.
Competition is good for the US. Please stop this merger.

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