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Thread: The final obstacle to the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Begins Tomorrow

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianAngela View Post
    The politicians appear to be mainly worried about the effect on lower-income users that have benefited from the competition between Sprint & T-Mobile, and Boost & Metro PCS. They are less interested in the benefits that might eventually come from having three high-quality national carriers.

    Which is better? What we have now, where price-sensitive customer can choose a lower cost option:
    1. Verizon: Excellent
    2. AT&T: Very Good
    3. T-Mobile: Good
    4. Sprint: Fair

    versus what we might get if T-Mobile acquires Sprint and then builds out their network to compete with AT&T and Verizon, where there will be no lower-cost options (other than MVNOs) but where, hopefully, three competitors instead of two, will help moderate prices:
    1. Verizon: Excellent
    2. AT&T: Very Good
    3. T-Mobile: Very Good

    I would say that the second scenario would probably benefit a larger number of users, but would hurt lower-income users that currently are willing to settle for lower quality service on Sprint and T-Mobile in exchange for a lower price. I know that T-Mobile has promised to not raise prices for a certain period of time but there are ways around that promise. They could drop things like free Netflix, they could stop including taxes and fees. They could eliminate the included international roaming (which would be a big mistake because that alone gains them a lot of customers).
    Yeah I have a feeling the new tmobile will get rid of the tax and fees included sooner rather than later. Impossible to know for sure but it wouldnt surprise me. It would basically be an increase without an increase technically speaking

    Id still like to see the deal go through since it seems to be the better of the two scenarios

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    Quote Originally Posted by zapjb View Post
    Don't think I mentioned WM.

    I really think it'll be like a slaughter house post merger. With MVNOs folding like cards once their current contracts with the carriers expire. But TF will be able to IF they need to sign contracts with carriers worth Billions. What other MVNO can guarantee even 100 Million to carriers?

    So with less MVNOs (by 25%-90% less MVNOs post merger & contracts expiring & stubborn MVNOs going BK because they can longer compete price wise) TF profits.
    To be fair, you didn't mention WM by name, but they are inexorably tied to TF in the US market with Straight Talk and other TF brands.

    Ah, I see what you're saying. Basically the bigger players survive in the both the prepaid and postpaid markets, and some of the extreme price pressure in the MVNO market is lessened.

    Quote Originally Posted by jet1000 View Post
    Neither the 9 million Boost customers nor the 46 million remaining Sprint customers that go to T-mobile, will have their plans increased on day 1. Even if the Sprint plans are no longer offered to new customers looking for service, T-Mobile will be offering their new Connect plans of $15 and $25. This whole armageddon that is being predicted for MVNO pricing is being blown way of proportion.
    They have promised not to raise rates for 3 years on existing customers. So basically in 3 years, there will be massive price hikes. But what about people who want to switch? Or are new to the market through whatever circumstance?

    Keeping Sprint in business doesn't guarantee that prices stay low. Sprint loses is a money loser and can't offer service below cost forever.
    Then they have to do something else to further competition, like more data, huge MHS buckets, etc. They are already toeing with the idea of replacing home broadband for low-income urban populations who will use MHS instead of home internet.

    Click most any metro area on Root Metrics map and these urban areas usually show three carriers with fairly close scores and a fourth carrier, Sprint, lagging behind with a much lower score. That's the fact. Even in urban areas their network is severely lacking.
    They need to fix their network. I don't know what it would actually take, as they have the spectrum, they have the towers in most places, they just can't seem to make it work properly. It's a disaster. I had Sprint for a year, and the quality of their service is terrible, but for no apparent reason.

    And their massive amount of n41 spectrum pretty much goes to waste. Clearwire owned that and had the purpose to roll out wireless broadband. But the technology of the time wasn't really there yet. Now with current technology, it can be put to use by the New T-Mobile to compete with wired broadband service.
    Sprint would roll it out, at least in major metros. And yes, there is a benefit to T-Mobile potentially rolling it out in rural areas, at the expense of mobile competition.

    I completely agree.
    Glad you're living in reality with something here.

    Quote Originally Posted by @TheRealDanny View Post
    It feels disingenuous to prefer to retain the status quo; therefore by proxy retaining duopoly domination; and the continual chest thumping claims of network superiority for those who can afford it and: “also-ran, inferior service for those who can’t.
    There is a natural monopoly or duopoly in providing service to rural areas. The solution would be to keep 4 nationwide MNOs and regulate roaming rates so that the smaller players could buy roaming for customers who travel occasionally outside of native coverage.

    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianAngela View Post
    Boost takes advantage of credit-challenged customers with the least knowledge and the least amount of money, offering a low-quality service at high prices. But, like Cricket, they do offer retail store sales and they put retail outlets in areas the fit the demographics of their customers.
    I've always wondered how Boost stays in business. Cricket is a totally different animal, they have the best coverage of any native-only MVNO/prepaid brand out there, other than other ones that run on AT&T. Verizon probably still has more branded prepaid and postpaid LTE coverage, but that's including LTEiRA, which MVNOs and Visible don't include.

    The duopoly emerged because the government created it when cellular was in its infancy. They divided up the 800 MHz cellular spectrum into A & B sides and one side went to the incumbent wireline carrier and one side went to another company. The intent was to have competition, rather than have the RBOCs (and GTE in a few areas) be the only cellular providers.

    The latecomers like Sprint and T-Mobile ended up with the less desirable 1900 MHz cellular spectrum. The incumbent carriers have leveraged their initial advantage through a long series of merger and acquisitions, including the purchase of many smaller rural carriers and those purchases gave them a tremendous coverage advantage over Sprint and T-Mobile. The FCC has tried, a little, to help the second tier carriers by requiring that the top tier carriers at least sell roaming. There's really nothing wrong with Sprint or T-Mobile service as long as you remain in heavily populated urban areas. Roaming agreements can provide coverage in other areas.

    Approving the merger rewards Sprint for not investing in their network.
    Good analysis on many points. I would add that our spectrum management in this country is abysmal, which is how you end up with crazy disparities in spectrum ownership, as well as crap like AT&T or Verizon owning both 850 blocks in some areas. It matters less now with LTE, but it would still help to do some forced or encouraged spectrum swaps to get the carriers to be more competitive in more markets.

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    At the end of the day this is going to come down to the judge ruling in this case. I do not see T Mobile USA/Sprint appealing the judges decision. Both sides made good arguments but it is now a wait and see game to see which argument the judge agrees with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianAngela View Post
    The politicians appear to be mainly worried about the effect on lower-income users that have benefited from the competition between Sprint & T-Mobile, and Boost & Metro PCS. They are less interested in the benefits that might eventually come from having three high-quality national carriers.

    Which is better? What we have now, where price-sensitive customer can choose a lower cost option:
    1. Verizon: Excellent
    2. AT&T: Very Good
    3. T-Mobile: Good
    4. Sprint: Fair

    versus what we might get if T-Mobile acquires Sprint and then builds out their network to compete with AT&T and Verizon, where there will be no lower-cost options (other than MVNOs) but where, hopefully, three competitors instead of two, will help moderate prices:
    1. Verizon: Excellent
    2. AT&T: Very Good
    3. T-Mobile: Very Good

    I would say that the second scenario would probably benefit a larger number of users, but would hurt lower-income users that currently are willing to settle for lower quality service on Sprint and T-Mobile in exchange for a lower price. I know that T-Mobile has promised to not raise prices for a certain period of time but there are ways around that promise. They could drop things like free Netflix, they could stop including taxes and fees. They could eliminate the included international roaming (which would be a big mistake because that alone gains them a lot of customers).
    You make a lot of really good posts, but there are two things in this post that strike me as inaccurate.

    For one, AT&T is on par with Verizon today. Technically, Verizon still has more land area LTE coverage for postpaid and branded prepaid customers, but I've run into at least at many places with good AT&T coverage and weak or no Verizon as I have places where Verizon had coverage and AT&T didn't. With FirstNet coming, AT&T may surpass Verizon for overall coverage, especially if you only look at native coverage.

    Secondly, I'm still not convinced that merging T-Mobile and Sprint would result in a competitor to AT&T and Verizon. Taking a metro-centric carrier and adding an urban-centric carrier would likely result in more capacity and speed in major metros, but I'm not convinced that T-Mobile would do anything about their lousy rural coverage (upon which Sprint uses for some of their Extended coverage, since they have no coverage in most of those areas with a few exceptions).

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianAngela View Post
    ...They could eliminate the included international roaming (which would be a big mistake because that alone gains them a lot of customers).
    I wonder how many customers this affects? I think not many overall, I'd guess less than 1% of TM customers. I'll even say jokingly but serious that most TM customers that care about this haven't traveled internationally in over 5 years. They just want the option, it's wishful thinking on their part.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoxFan76 View Post
    They have promised not to raise rates for 3 years on existing customers. So basically in 3 years, there will be massive price hikes.
    You have no evidence of this. When was the last time T-Mobile raised prices on existing customers? I know people that have plans from 2002 who are still paying the same amount today. T-Mobile just gained another 1.9 million people last quarter alone. So you're saying in three years, they're going to change what they've always done and institute "massive price hikes" on existing customers even though they have no history of doing that? That's highly unlikely and highly illogical.

    It's more likely that in 3 years they'll leverage their improved network to go after Verizon and AT&T's prime corporate and government accounts. It's more likely that they'll continue to focus on what will increase their market share and not raise prices on their existing customers to chase them away.


    They need to fix their network. I don't know what it would actually take, as they have the spectrum, they have the towers in most places, they just can't seem to make it work properly. It's a disaster.
    You don't know, one set of execs after another doesn't know either. That's why they threw up the surrender flag and are trying to sell out to T-Mobile. Denying the merger doesn't fix Sprint's problems. It doesn't change what you're calling a disaster. With new technologies in existence and AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are all spending money to roll them out. How can Sprint compete with that when they're walking on thin ice already?

    CanadianAngela and the attorney generals want to stick low income people with this "disaster". They think that's all they're entitled to. In my opinion, that's a rather elitist attitude when those people's service could be greatly improved by moving them over to the new T-Mobile network. But some people feel better about themselves when they hold others down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoxFan76 View Post
    There is a natural monopoly or duopoly in providing service to rural areas. The solution would be to keep 4 nationwide MNOs and regulate roaming rates so that the smaller players could buy roaming for customers who travel occasionally outside of native coverage.

    I've always wondered how Boost stays in business. Cricket is a totally different animal, they have the best coverage of any native-only MVNO/prepaid brand out there, other than other ones that run on AT&T. Verizon probably still has more branded prepaid and postpaid LTE coverage, but that's including LTEiRA, which MVNOs and Visible don't include.
    There is no real upside in four (or three) carriers providing service to rural areas. It's a tremendous expense. I was just in a rural area where there is only one carrier providing service. You would be unlikely to find a single resident of those rural areas with any of the other three carriers. However the roads through these areas are heavily traveled by tourists going to the National Park.

    The accommodations we stayed at, outside the park on CA 140, had Wi-Fi, but had only Verizon coverage for cellular or LTE. I asked the owner about this and she said that originally they only had coverage on a rural carrier but that Verizon bought that rural carrier about five years earlier. I went and searched for this and found it here https://www.verizon.com/about/news/v...state-cellular . 160,000 population in five large counties. What would be the benefit in the other three carriers spending the money to erect towers to cover that area? I could see AT&T making an attempt, just because there are so many visitors to those areas, but Sprint and T-Mobile aren't going to spend all that money. Sprint does show roaming coverage on Verizon, but that's only for postpaid Sprint users, not for Boost, Virgin, or MVNOs. So your proposition that the smaller players can just buy roaming is already somewhat true, at least for Sprint. Roaming rates are already somewhat regulated but T-Mobile complained to the FCC that they were too high, and that MVNOs were being charged less for roaming than T-Mobile.

    I think that Boost stays in business because of their distribution model. There are many Boost dealers and they are not selling just Boost service, they have other product lines and they are in neighborhoods where prepaid customers are more likely to live. Cricket franchises sell only Cricket. Boost is really a terrible deal but many people don't know any better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zapjb View Post
    I wonder how many customers this affects? I think not many overall, I'd guess less than 1% of TM customers. I'll even say jokingly but serious that most TM customers that care about this haven't traveled internationally in over 5 years. They just want the option, it's wishful thinking on their part.
    I think you'd be surprised. Between people with family outside of the US who visit for extended periods of time, people who travel abroad for business, and leisure travelers, that's a sizable chunk of people. That's a HUGE advantage for T-Mobile.

    Quote Originally Posted by jet1000 View Post
    You have no evidence of this. When was the last time T-Mobile raised prices on existing customers? I know people that have plans from 2002 who are still paying the same amount today. T-Mobile just gained another 1.9 million people last quarter alone. So you're saying in three years, they're going to change what they've always done and institute "massive price hikes" on existing customers even though they have no history of doing that? That's highly unlikely and highly illogical.

    It's more likely that in 3 years they'll leverage their improved network to go after Verizon and AT&T's prime corporate and government accounts. It's more likely that they'll continue to focus on what will increase their market share and not raise prices on their existing customers to chase them away.
    This is basic economics. Less competition means higher prices. T-Mobile has raised prices numerous times over the past 5 or so years, it doesn't matter if they grandfather existing customers in, it still affects the competitiveness of the market. And for Sprint customers, good luck. They're not going to keep them on bargain basement plans. Why would they? Those customers have nowhere to go if they raise prices, what are they going to do, get Verizon's Unlimited plan that's far more expensive than T-Mobile?

    You don't know, one set of execs after another doesn't know either. That's why they threw up the surrender flag and are trying to sell out to T-Mobile. Denying the merger doesn't fix Sprint's problems. It doesn't change what you're calling a disaster. With new technologies in existence and AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are all spending money to roll them out. How can Sprint compete with that when they're walking on thin ice already?
    The network engineers clearly know what they need to do, and they clearly aren't getting the funding to actually do it, or there is internal dysfunction, otherwise the network would be fixed by now. Sprint has a golden opportunity here with b41 to roll out 5G in a far less capital-intensive way than other carriers, fix up their existing network minus a little bit of coverage pruning in unprofitable markets, and offer low-cost service.

    CanadianAngela and the attorney generals want to stick low income people with this "disaster". They think that's all they're entitled to. In my opinion, that's a rather elitist attitude when those people's service could be greatly improved by moving them over to the new T-Mobile network. But some people feel better about themselves when they hold others down.
    That's insane nonsense. What YOU want to do is remove choice from the market, which disproportionately affects low-income and minority populations. Again, whether that's worth it for increased competition in the broadband market, which may affect a lot of those same populations, that's a value judgement, but the fact that the merger would disproportionately affect minority and low-income populations is simply an incontrovertible fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianAngela View Post
    So your proposition that the smaller players can just buy roaming is already somewhat true, at least for Sprint. Roaming rates are already somewhat regulated but T-Mobile complained to the FCC that they were too high, and that MVNOs were being charged less for roaming than T-Mobile.
    So this is the key. If the roaming rates were the same as the MVNOs are paying, then carriers could roam a lot more, and this whole roaming thing would work a lot better than it does now. It doesn't work now because of arbitrary and capricious pricing designed mostly for discouraging smaller carriers from actually using it, and driving carriers to the larger carriers.

    With FirstNet, AT&T should have similar coverage to Verizon in most of the US. Of course there will always be markets here or there where that isn't the case, but by and large, it will be.

    I think that Boost stays in business because of their distribution model. There are many Boost dealers and they are not selling just Boost service, they have other product lines and they are in neighborhoods where prepaid customers are more likely to live. Cricket franchises sell only Cricket. Boost is really a terrible deal but many people don't know any better.
    Interesting. Yeah, I see them a lot in poorer areas of town. I also think a lot of people in those areas rarely or never leave the area, so they don't need coverage all across the US.

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    https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/.../d/d-id/756640


    Interesting read. TMobile still confident on merger, but release some tidbits on what plan b is if the merger falls apart. Hints at buying a smaller regional carrier. Seems a lot of people assume that means U.S. Cellular, but don't see that, personally feel it would be more along the lines of cspire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoxFan76 View Post
    I think you'd be surprised. Between people with family outside of the US who visit for extended periods of time, people who travel abroad for business, and leisure travelers, that's a sizable chunk of people. That's a HUGE advantage for T-Mobile...
    Well then what do you think the % of TM subscribers that use international roaming in a year?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hofonewb9 View Post
    https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/.../d/d-id/756640


    Interesting read. TMobile still confident on merger, but release some tidbits on what plan b is if the merger falls apart. Hints at buying a smaller regional carrier. Seems a lot of people assume that means U.S. Cellular, but don't see that, personally feel it would be more along the lines of cspire.
    Maybe a network sharing agreement with US Cellular...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jet1000 View Post
    Denying the merger doesn't fix Sprint's problems. It doesn't change what you're calling a disaster. With new technologies in existence and AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are all spending money to roll them out. How can Sprint compete with that when they're walking on thin ice already?
    Sprint could compete with new 5G deployments by (drumroll please...) deploying 5G.

    If you, the DOJ, and other merger proponents are so willing to believe that DISH can somehow squeeze their buttcheeks together and crap out a fully-formed, competitive 5G network from scratch, then why can't Sprint?

    5G could be the reset button for Sprint, who could focus on the future by deploying a decent metro-centric 5G network and just keep their existing 3G/4G network running with the most minimal investment in duct tape, bailing wire, and chewing gum possible (basically, business as usual!)

    Quote Originally Posted by jet1000 View Post
    CanadianAngela and the attorney generals want to stick low income people with this "disaster". They think that's all they're entitled to. In my opinion, that's a rather elitist attitude when those people's service could be greatly improved by moving them over to the new T-Mobile network. But some people feel better about themselves when they hold others down.
    And who exactly has *ever* said anything remotely like that (until you just did?)

    What most of us have said is that Sprint (and T-Mo, too, for the most part, don't forget!) use a "less coverage for less money" business model that helps keep *all* wireless pricing in check by competitive pressure, which is why the top-tier carriers are forced to compete with them via proxies like Cricket and Visible.

    Personally, since you're such a T-Mo fanboy, I have a hard time believing you have any first-hand experience with Sprint anytime recently. Despite their comparitively high churn, Sprint actually has a good number of perfectly satisfied customers, and Sprint offers a decent service in many markets at a decent price.

    I took a free Sprint line from that promo a couple of years ago (ported one of my little used T-Mo tablet lines to satisfy the port-in requirement) and it worked perfectly fine for the little I used it (mostly here in the Denver metro for mobile hotspot, which my grandfathered T-Mo plan didn't have.)

    What the long time T-Mo fanboys here have never adequately explained, (particularly in light of their pejorative comments about Sprint!) is why you and they signed up with such a lousy value-oriented carrier like T-Mo in the first place?

    Sure, T-Mo has improved greatly in the last decade, particularly since the failed AT&T merger, but many of you (like me) have been with T-Mo since the days of crappy urban-only coverage, back when they were the last carrier to deploy 3G and all of us T-Mo customers were "Livin' on the EDGE"...

    So, I ask again, if you chose bargain-basement T-Mo over top-tier carriers over a decade ago, why is it so important to you that they suddenly become a top-tier carrier today? (Other than the obvious greed of "winning the merger lottery" and hoping you end up with top-tier 5G service while still paying for your EDGE-era grandfathered T-Zones plan...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by L33 View Post
    Maybe a network sharing agreement with US Cellular...
    This could be as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hofonewb9 View Post
    Here's a link to the Fox Business segment from Monday mentioned in the article:

    https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/6120...#sp=show-clips

    The Lightreading article from last week mentioned that that Wall Street analysts are skeptical of the merger being approved because the judge is a Democrat:

    https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/.../d/d-id/756522

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianAngela View Post
    .....What would be the benefit in the other three carriers spending the money to erect towers to cover that area?.....
    I assume you don't literally mean "erecting towers" but rather "populating towers". Most towers are designed to be shared by three or more tenants.
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