Consumers Union has received thousands of comments from consumers like you who are concerned about the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger currently under consideration by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and want to have their voices heard. Take a look at what current customers have to say, and share your comment about the AT&T and T-Mobile merger.
AT&T-Mobile customer since 2004, Brian V. of San Francisco writes to say that the proposed merger makes him “cringe.” He tells us he would be forced to pay hundreds more dollars per year for an equivalent plan through AT&T:
“T-Mobile has offered lower prices without compromising devices or service, and you can’t beat that. The equivalent plan that I’m currently on with T-Mobile would be an additional $30/month on AT&T. That’s $360 extra I’d be paying each year.”
In fact, a Consumer Reports phone price and satisfaction survey found that on average, consumers will pay nearly $50 per month, or up to $600 more per year for a comparable voice and data plan on AT&T. Not only are prices higher on average, but satisfaction with service is also lower, a fact Brian points out:
“I’ve specifically stayed with T-Mobile over the years to avoid having to switch over to carriers like AT&T. I’ve heard horror stories of their customer service and especially of their network. I have a hard time seeing how any of this would be better even if they acquire T-Mobiles towers.”
The merger threatens to reduce the number of major national carriers from four to three, consolidating the industry and reducing the competition. AT&T argues that consumers will still have the choice to be served by regional and pre paid carriers, but James P. of California sees through this ploy:
“This merger would have the effect of eliminating competition in the nationwide market. The fact that the regional market carriers are present is moot. Regional carriers purchase their spectrum in lease form from the national carriers in most cases, and in the cases where they have their own spectrum they purchase backhaul from the national carriers, which means your service would be beholden to them in one capacity or another anyway.”
Not only are regional carriers not viable competitors because of their dependence on the major carriers to lease access, but their size means they don’t enjoy the same economies of scale, and can’t compete for the latest cell phone models and smart phones companies that AT&T and Verizon can offer. Regional firms also don’t offer national coverage, focusing on certain local geographic areas, and consumers who want to use their phone beyond a limited area have to pay roaming charges.
There is also concern about what will happen to current T-Mobile customers. As a college student without credit, Kyle T. of Norman, Oklahoma wants to know how the merger is going to affect his ability to get a phone he can afford:
“The main problem will be how AT&T will dissolve or sell off all the no-contract plans in favor of contracted customers. I will be left out in the cold or sold to another company who will try to do the same as AT&T is already doing. I despise ATT as it is and being forced into their service doesn’t influence me very well, especially since I already know they are going to force me into something I can’t afford between the contract, deposit, possible new phone, and price of the plan.”
Consumers are concerned by the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, and uneasy about consequences to pricing, service, coverage and competition. They have every right to be, which is why it is so crucial that the FCC hear from as many consumers as possible as they consider whether to grant approval over the next few months. This merger is not a done deal by any means, and the FCC is waiting to hear from consumers like you
James P. wrote he would “be happy to allow you to use my email in the hopes of influencing the Government’s decision” to block the T-Mobile buyout. So on behalf of the Brian, James, Kyle, and consumers like you, make sure your voice gets heard and submit your comment urging the FCC to vote no on the merger.