Are T-Mobile and AT&T Really Merging?

Senior Contributor
03.21.11 2 Comments

On Monday, T-Mobile users learned just how much their love and respect for their company was worth when Douche, er, Deutsche Telekom announced it was selling its T-Mobile USA operations to AT&T, better known to mobile users as the network that thinks dropping calls in New York City 30% of the time is acceptable service. But will the deal actually happen? And is Sprint moving to break a foot or two off in AT&T and T-Mobile’s collective alimentary canal? Evil empires clash here today on Uproxx News.

First, AT&T will soon be bringing the joy of their terrible customer service and inflated prices to T-Mobile users. Why? Because AT&T has a terrible network!

We’re not joking. It’s terrible, and being, until recently, the sole purveyor of iPhones did not help matters in the least. AT&T has finally realized that it can’t just sit on the billions in revenue Apple handed it, and is trying to build more network capacity, five years after the problem became apparent, but that’s going to take years, and it’s also haaaa-ard. To be fair, that’s because while everybody likes fast Internet on their phone and crystal clear sound, they absolutely hate any sort of cell phone tower being built anywhere that might spoil their pretty view, plus there’s always some hippie who thinks he’s allergic to WiFi (protip: he’s not) bringing a zoning lawsuit. Better to just spend $39 billion and buy someone else’s pre-built network and skip all that.

There’s also the 4G problem. AT&T doesn’t have nearly the amount of spectrum it needs to even keep up with demand, forget using any technology faster than a 386 processor. While T-Mobile’s much-advertised 4G capacity is largely just smoke and mirrors, they do have some valuable airspace, and AT&T needs that ASAP.

What does Deutsche Telekom get out of this, aside from eternal nerd hatred? 8% control of AT&T, a seat on their board, and probably a few femtocells to get their iPhones to work. Also probably years of headaches, as the government is going to have a few things to say about this merger.

You see, AT&T and T-Mobile merging means that AT&T has an absolute monopoly over GSM networks in the United States. GSM, you might remember, is an international standard, so if you travel overseas a lot, you probably have a GSM phone. We suspect that if the FTC approves this merger, and there’s a real risk that it won’t, we’re going to see some forcible competitive measures levered into the agreement, hopefully involving keeping T-Mobile’s customer service department separate.

Meanwhile, Sprint, having seen Google drastically turn around its fortunes, and realizing that maybe, just maybe, giving your customers what they want will generate lots of business, has integrated Google Voice like a fat kid integrates with cake.

What do we mean by integrated? Well, either your Sprint number can be your Google Voice number, or vice versa. You get a Google voicemail box with all the goodies, like transcriptions sent straight to your GMail account, and call forwarding. In addition, if somebody calls you via Google Voice, it’ll go to your Sprint phone, and vice versa.

We really can’t overstate how tightly integrated it is. In fact, it’s so tightly integrated that the next Googlephone, the Nexus S, is actually going to ditch T-Mobile in favor of Sprint, and it comes with WiMax, which means you only have an hour of browsing time, but it’ll be blazing fast.

In short, Sprint has gone from a third place company circling the drain to a serious competitor and a possible darling of the nerd set in the space of a few months. Not bad, guys.


  • AT&T and Deutsche Telekom rub their parts together. (Mashable)
  • Sprint and Google Voice, meanwhile, come up with a service you want to use. (ZDNet)
  • The Nexus S is all fancy with WiMax and stuff. (Google)



  • In animal news, a town in New Jersey has spent three years and several thousand dollars in legal fees to create laws about when chickens can have sex. And yet Snookie and the Situation are allowed to reproduce with impunity? (
  • Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, in his ongoing effort to prove himself the most macho man in the world, took time from a business trip to go play with a snow leopard. No, seriously. (Yahoo!)



  • Verizon currently holds 31% of the US mobile market. Looks like they got the iPhone just in time. (USAToday)
  • T-Mobile has about 150 million subscribers, 33 million of those in the US. So 20% of their customers really hate them now. (T-Mobile)


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