AT&T T-Mobile Deal: iPhone Service Improved?

    March 30, 2011
    Josh Wolford

AT&T looks to be on the defensive. Criticisms of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile have been getting stronger, as is evident by Sprint’s public protest released this week. Many are worried about that the deal could lead to a wireless “duopoly” of AT&T and Verizon, limiting market competition. People are also concerned about the way the deal will impact customers, as nobody wants their service to be altered in any way.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is attempting to but a polished spin on these concerns. Today, at an event for the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, Stephenson said that the acquisition would boost network capacity and thus make iPhone service (among others) much better.

According to Bloomberg, Stephenson claimed that large U.S. cities would see a large spike in capacity and overseas roaming charges could also see a reduction:

“This transaction is very instrumental” in improving network service, said Stephenson at the event. “Virtually on the day you close the deal, getting a 30 percent lift in capacity in New York City: that’s a significant improvement in call quality and data throughput.”

Oh, really?

As Stefani Lain suggests, “T-Mobile and AT&T use incompatible frequencies in the U.S.: T-Mobile’s phones use the 1,700 and 2,100 MHz frequency bands, while AT&T’s phones use the 850 and 1,900 MHz bands. As a result, phones built for AT&T’s network usually offer poor performance when used on T-Mobile’s network, and vice versa, a problem experienced by most iPhone users who unlocked their device to use it on T-Mobile’s network.”

Maybe Stephenson was referring to the part of the deal that commits AT&T to expanding its LTE technology (4G) to an additional 46.5 million people.

Oh, and about those anti-competition concerns?

“This is an intensely competitive industry. It is intense before we do this transaction, it will be intense after we do this transaction,” Stephenson said at the event.

Pardon me Randy if I am a little skeptical of that claim. In what ways will the AT&T / T-Mobile deal harm or benefit the customer? Tell us what you think.