When AT&T announced that they intended on buying out T-Mobile, the internet was ablaze with endless rhetoric about how AT&T has effectively killed competition in the mobile market place. Last week, House Republicans voted against the FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulations, further making what comes next look worse than Agrippa’s dream.
AT&T claims that the acquisition of T-Mobile is a win-win for all customers; it will increase coverage for existing customers, be able to roll out 4G LTE coverage for 95% of Americans, and, according to CEO Randall Stephenson they’ll even help President Obama reach his dream goal of a wirelessly connected America (someone quickly check how snakeoil is trading).
The truth however is that this will most definitely lead to fewer options, higher prices, and take-what-we-give service. A few years ago, T-Mobile offered up the only Nationwide plan for unlimited calling any number up to 5 numbers. The MyFavs plan was an instant hit (and offered enough of a savings that I refused to upgrade my plan) and forced Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless to offer similar plans.
Sprint and T-Mobile offered customers the closest thing to having a powerful enough lobby where their interest, i.e. saving money, could not only be heard but acted upon. A world where only Sprint, the future bottom feeder of the mobile telecom world, would voice the needs of open markets and competition will most likely end with Congress ignoring the requests of the little guy – more importantly, ignoring the needs of regular people.
This is exactly why there is an immediate need for Net Neutrality in the United States. The current political temperature appears to lean towards deregulation in every industry even when it has been clearly shown that deregulation’s impact on people has ended in failure (mortgages I’m looking at you). Deregulation of the mobile space is essentially asking carriers to agree to build mobile technology and share equally.
Yeah, okay. Let’s be serious, why would you, the largest company with the largest network, share your resources with Cricket? Or MetroPC? Or whichever local carrier is available?
If the largest carrier also happens to be the only carrier, why should they offer a price that is not available in a market? Who will make them; the FCC was just told by the House they have no authority to enforce any of their Net Neutrality guidelines (note: the FCC cannot pass laws, only guidelines) much less hold a mega-corp accountable for operating as a monopoly.
Telecoms feel that deregulation will allow them to bring us, the consumer, the latest handset technology by creating a demand from manufacturers. I mean, look at the iPhone they proclaim, it became the most sought after phone and forced the industry to innovate.
Let’s look at the iPhone. In 2007 the iPhone was tied to an exclusive deal with Cingular (which later became AT&T), El-Jobso’s first choice: Verizon. In 2007 the Verizon line up of phones were functional bricks covered in V-Cast. In other words, the best carrier had the shittiest line of phones. Verizon was willing to play ball so long as Verizon got to call the shots on what tech would be available (to an extent they were doing this with the Moto Xoom – WiFi was only available after you signed up for a Verizon data plan). At the time Cingular was in no position to make demands from Apple and agreed to let the chains loose. If in 2007, Cingular was the largest carrier and it’s closest competitor were Verizon, there probably would be no iPhone as we know it today. In fact, you’ll probably be pining over the new Motorola RAZR 2012 edition.
And that’s what Net Neutrality is all about, ensuring that companies don’t just promise to play nice and give a wide offering of deals that can fit anyone’s budget; net neutrality is the only means to which make it a legal requirement. If the FTC and FCC approve of this merger it will only lead to carriers price fixing, deterring infrastructure improvement and hindering handset innovation.
Source : Joshua Topolsky