We slice and dice the plans, phones and fine print at each major U.S. carrier to come up with 23 reasons you might choose one carrier over another.
When we first began discussing this guide internally, T-Mobile was the number four independent carrier in the U.S., although it was falling fast. In the first quarter of 2011, it lost a net 471,000 subscribers on contract-based plans. That's more than 5,000 people jumping ship every day.
AT&T has made a $39 billion for the struggling firm, but there has been considerable opposition to the deal. AT&T is facing government regulatory resistance and Sprint, which would be a distant third in the race, has raised holy hell over the deal. CEO Dan Hesse has made a serious push to stop the deal, something you usually don't see. CEOs may complain but to run a full court press is something else.
AT&T defended the deal in the funniest way possible: it basically said T-Mobile was a steaming pile of dung but still worth $39 billion. Among comments in the report:
* "T-Mobile is not an important factor in AT&T’s competitive decision-making."
* "It confronts increased competition from industry mavericks such as MetroPCS, Leap, and others; its percentage of US subscribers has been falling for nearly two years; and it has no clear path to LTE."
* "T-Mobile USA, in contrast to others, does not have a differentiated network position."
* "AT&T does not believe that T-Mobile USA has a particularly compelling portfolio of smartphone offerings as compared to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint."
It won't be easy. For starters, Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisc), the chairman of the Senate's antitrust subcommittee, is recommending that federal regulators deny the acquisition approval. A number of powerful Congressmen, like Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), sent a letter to the Justice Department and the FCC expressing their concerns.
The FCC has hit AT&T with more than 50 questions. Even if AT&T answers them, there won't be enough people to read them. Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has resigned to take a job at Comcast and Commissioner Michael Copps will leave later this year. So two of the five FCC commissioners are leaving, plus the assistant attorney general reviewing the case is also leaving, which means the deal will have to wait until President Obama appoints replacements, and he's a little busy right now.