If Phone Giants Merge: A Rural Take
AT&T is proposing to acquire T-Mobile. What would this mean for phone pricing, customer service, and jobs in rural areas?
[imgcontainer left] [img:pacman-att-t-mobile320.jpg] [source]paidcontentAT&T asserts that its plan to acquire T-Mobile will mean better and more extensive phone service for rural customers, but critics hold a very different view.
In March AT&T announced a proposed $39 billion merger with T-Mobile, which would reduce the number of national cell phone carriers from four to three. The merger is subject to approval by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which will be considering the impact of the deal over the coming months.
Approval of the merger could have profound implications for rural residents, and the impact on rural network investment, pricing, and consumer choice should be carefully considered.
AT&T has stated that the merger will lead to network improvements, including faster deployment of next-generation wireless broadband technology, and greater rural network development. But groups such as Consumers Union and the Rural Cellular Association have questioned those claims, referencing the communication’s carrier’s past performance.
It is difficult to estimate how many rural residents would be impacted, since effects on roaming, pricing, and market competition would extend beyond subscribed customers to AT&T and T-mobile to the entire cell phone and broadband market.
Rural Network Development
Wireless connectivity is important for daily life in small cities and towns throughout America, just as it is in suburbs and cities. From checking and responding to emails to making credit card payments, rural communities use wireless and broadband technology to stay connected. Rural businesses have also reaped the rewards of affordable wireless technology. Today, a small business in Plainview, Minnesota, can have the same global reach as its largest competitor, creating a level playing field.
[imgcontainer left] [img:ATTgraphs320.jpg] If AT&T merges with T-Mobile, 76.2% of the market will belong to just two companies.