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back to article Sprint to buy T-Mobile US? Not so fast, says antitrust official

Rumors persist that US mobile carrier Sprint may be looking to snap up smaller rival T-Mobile US, but a top antitrust enforcer has warned that any such deal would be very unlikely to meet regulatory approval. "It's going to be hard for someone to make a persuasive case that reducing four firms to three is actually going to …

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Pint

Huh?

Completely and utterly bizarre. What with the top two playing footsie with the cable ISP's (anticompetively) and the only way that the next two can even get some skin in the game by completely disrupting the duopoly, just color me confused. One would think that combining #3 & #4 would lead to better differentiation, but I must have forgotten everything I learned about market competition (especially economic history). I need a drink.

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Silver badge

Re: Huh?

What happens is that the fewer viable competitors you have in the market, the more likely these competitors will start to collaborate and engage in cartel behaviour so as to keep out potential market disruptors. This is especially true in an industry like this where all of a key infrastructure element (in this case, bandwidth) is already pretty much spoken for. The big boys may choose to act like an oligopoly so they can concentrate on each other and not have to worry about surprise challenges. Thing is, cartel behaviour can easily break down if one of the players breaks ranks, and the more players you have, the better odds someone will upset the apple cart.

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Coat

Re: Huh?

" the better odds someone will upset the apple cart."

Two comments in and someone has already mentioned Apple!

The carries don't want to upset Apple... well, because you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

I'll get my coat.

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Alert

NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

Please do NOT let this happen. T-mobile(US) has already done wonderful things for the US cellular consumer. Sprint has been doing horrible things to the US cellular consumer.

Right now the 4 major celcos break down thusly:

- Verizon has mediocre customer service, but outstanding coverage, Price is a little high than the others (700 min/3GB/unlimited texts: ~$80/month)

- AT&T has mediocre customer service, mediocre coverage, and mediocre price (unlimited text/talk/4GB ~$110/Month)

- Sprint Has piss-poor customer service, mediocre coverage, and mediocre price(unlimited text/talk/5GB ~$110/Month)

- T-Mobile has outstanding customer service, poor (but improving) coverage and are trying their damnedest to break up the pricing, including getting the other three to acknowledge PAYG. (yes, those prices above are with a contract)

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Unhappy

Re: NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

I agree! I get the exact plan I want for a price I am absolutely happy with (Unlimited Data &Text with 100 voice minutes per month for ~$35, taxes included, pay-as-you-go.)

I've no illusions that Sprint would continue this deal like T-Mobile did after the recent shake-up.

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Re: NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

"T-Mobile has outstanding customer service, poor (but improving) coverage and are trying their damnedest to break up the pricing, including getting the other three to acknowledge PAYG. (yes, those prices above are with a contract)"

Actually, that's par for the course. Contract rates include the installments for the phone you bought. It's only recently that T-Mobile separated the two so you know how much went to the plan and how much went to the phone.

Show me a company with rates that high for a no-contract plan, and I'll show you a company with little time to live.

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Re: NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

When you go to the AT&T website and select their options for bring your own phone it takes you here:

http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/customer-owned.html#fbid=9-lZzun4ipL

Select you want to bring a smart phone and they recommend a no-contract plan with 4GB of data at $110 a month. I've no idea what else you get for that crazy price, presumably a live-in butler or something.

Having come here from the UK, it's really hard to comprehend just how much ordinary families are paying for cell phones.

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Re: NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

Thus why I've stayed away from AT&T for a number of years now. T-Mobile's coverage may be subpar, but the price can't be beat. Even now they're offering the closest things to a no-strings-attached 3-way unlimited plan for $70 a month, no contract. And if you want to skimp in places, they offer various lower rates in exchange. No other big-name plan I know can match, and this comes with WiFi Calling and Visual Voicemail.

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Pirate

oh woh is me...

yes indeed. Besides, this highlights the problem with any industry that has so few players...

The question might be, is there a better way to keep companies from becoming too big...?

P.

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Re: oh woh is me...

Not in a primarily-capitalist country. Big companies are pretty much the natural result of unfettered capitalism. Buit since too many Americans are afraid of the "S" word, I wonder if they'd take a natural monopoly as the lesser evil.

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