Can Swallowing T-Mobile Make AT&T Feel Better?

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Hey AT&T, why the long face? You’re still the country’s No. 1 spot for smartphones and you have a corner on worldwide wireless growth. So what if you’re consistently ranked at the bottom of customer service on the planet and many believe you don’t have a sufficient network to support the massive amount of AT&T customers. You just bought T-Mobile for a paltry $39 billion! That should make everything better, shouldn’t it?

AT&T’s announcement on Sunday that it purchased T-Mobile sent shock waves through the wireless Internet and mobile industry. On the surface, it seems like a win-win for both brands. AT&T gets carte blanche of T-Mobile’s wireless spectrum, helping partially solve that pesky crappy network problem plaguing the company. And T-Mobile, the undisputed champion here, gets $39 billion.

But as the deal is awaiting regulatory approval, many are wondering if it’s the customers of both companies who will lose out big time if the sale goes ahead as planned.

“For phone owners, tech lovers and American consumers, this is a total disaster,” Sascha Segan at PCMag.com said of the news. Segan, like many critics, points out that cell phone bills are likely to rise – as is the company’s already notoriously bad customer service. What’s more, T-Mobile users won’t even be able to get their hands on an iPhone for at least a year, making the overall benefits of the merger low or nonexistent for reportedly satisfied T-Mobile customers.

Others are hoping the regulatory commission will put the kibosh on the sale entirely.

“Don’t believe the hype: There is nothing about having less competition that will benefit wireless consumers,” S. Derek Turner, research director at media industry watchdog Free Press, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “A market this concentrated – where the top four companies already control 90 percent of the business, and two of them want to merge – means nothing but higher prices and fewer choices, as the newly-engorged AT&T and Verizon exert even more control over the wireless Internet.”

As a brand, AT&T will see its subscriber number increase by another 33.7 million if all goes according to plan. With a prospective 130 million customers, the brand had better make ironing out the issues priority No. 1. AT&T will have to work via social media marketing and online marketing to overcome the “Evil Wireless Empire” image. While AT&T and T-Mobile might feel better, it remains to be seen how consumers will feel if and when the ink dries.

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