T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Unlikely to Be Approved as Currently Structured [Updated]

cocky jeremy

macrumors 601
Jul 12, 2008
4,148
1,702
Columbus, OH
I hope it gets flatly denied, honestly.

Not that I really like government interference, but this merger just causes more of the same problem. Why wouldn't T-Mobile and Sprint want to continue operating as separately profitable entities? Because their only competition is 2 gigantic, overly large companies.

They're telling us that in the shadow of AT&T and Verizon, there is barely room for both a Sprint and T-Mobile. That is ridiculous.
Sprint is dead regardless, so we might as well use them to help T-Mobile become actual competition to the big 2.
 

fairuz

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2017
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Silicon Valley
Well, for starters, my monthly bill is $72-82/mo with the discounts they let me stack and I have three iPhone lines and one iPad line. They restarted the trend of unlimited data as well, with really high caps of 50GB until you're throttled, and if you use less than 2GB, they'll give you a $10 bill credit per line (which is part of why my bill is so low most of the time). When I was having issues with coverage in my basement they sent me a free range extender. The price of taxes and everything else is rolled into the bill so the only reason it changes each month by being lower if I use less data. They do a lot of promotions like T-Mobile Tuesdays where you get free tacos, ice cream, reduced gas prices, cheap movie tickets, etc and can enter to win bigger prizes. They were one of the first companies to offer robocall blocking for free, and though it only works to a certain extent, it has helped. And as for what you claim to be a net neutrality violation—any company can sign up with their binge on service and no money exchanges hands. They add more companies over time so consumers don't have to pay for optimized, lower quality streams on mobile. The only requirement is that their video streaming capability be compatible with T-Mobile's requirements. I see nothing wrong with this. The only issue I've had is that sometimes their customer service reps, especially if you get an Indian call center, are completely clueless sometimes. Any time I deal with the U.S. team, which is a lot more frequently lately as they are now assigning teams to customers (I think based out of Atlanta or somewhere in the south), it has been a much better experience and they said they are working to improve that. My coverage has also been improving a lot lately as they've been working a lot to bring new spectrum online that penetrates deeper into buildings. I've had AT&T and Verizon and with T-Mobile it's different. I can tell that they actually care and if they make a mistake they work to fix it and give you a much larger credit. For instance a few months ago I had something go weird with my account after getting my new iPad Pro added to it and they adjusted so many credits that my bill for the month was only $10.
With the exception of the robocall blocking, which I agree is nice, and the lower prices, which isn't really a customer friendliness thing, these all sound neutral or negative. Promotions, you have to chase them down, and they're just a form of price discrimination. Unlimited data, that only benefits you if you use a lot of data and hurts you proportionally if you don't (I don't). You pay for what you use on AT&T and most other providers; it's especially nice and simple on prepaid ones.

And yes, Binge On is still a distinct violation of net neutrality since they're treating traffic to/from certain services different from others, regardless of how services sign up for it. You may disagree that net neutrality is important, but that's separate. It's worse that the only supported services are large corporations, maybe due to those "technical requirements," and that it only works for 480p quality, which far oversteps their role as a data network.

Network neutrality, or more simply net neutrality, is the principle that Internet service providers should treat all Internet communications equally and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, or method of communication.
(T-Mobile aren't the only ones doing this, though. Verizon has something similar.)
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T-Mobile gives me free international data/messaging in all countries I have traveled (26) with the exception of one. Last I checked, getting the same service with AT&T would have cost me many hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
That's just pricing, not customer-friendliness. Also, that matters for very few people.
 
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Chazz08

macrumors 6502a
Dec 4, 2012
536
96
Hows this for economic analysis: Fewer companies = bad for consumers.
That’s not a very good analysis.
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In our area, Sprint service is pretty poor. If they are that bad everywhere, I don't see why T-Mobile would want to merge with them. Either way, not interested in their service.
It’s all about spectrum. Sprint has some that would, combined with T-Mobile, help create a pretty robust nationwide 5G network. Sprint, by themselves, can’t afford to roll out the new network nationwide.
 

ggibson913

macrumors 6502a
Sep 11, 2006
817
273
Hmm, I am unsure why the FCC would be so concerned given the merger they approved with Time Warner and AT&T and Spectrum. Neither increased competition nor saved customers any cash.
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T-Mo and Spring don't compete with AT&T and Verizon because they don't have nationwide coverage like AT&T and Verizon.

To support a buildout of 5G service, any carrier is going to need a minimum subscriber base. T-Mo and Sprint can't get there separately, but combined they can.

I think the issue with the Government is low cost service in urban areas. T-Mo/Sprint is going to have to convince that they will still have a low cost option for cell service after the merger.
I haven't been to every state as a T-Mobile customer (just switched in March) but I have travelled to a few places and haven't had any signal issues. They were major cities though, but I live in the Hudson Valley in NY and haven't had issues here or in NJ. They really have built out their network in the last few years.
 
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GreenPixel

macrumors member
Aug 21, 2014
88
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I haven't been to every state as a T-Mobile customer (just switched in March) but I have travelled to a few places and haven't had any signal issues. They were major cities though, but I live in the Hudson Valley in NY and haven't had issues here or in NJ. They really have built out their network in the last few years.
They have definitely made a big improvement. But after driving recently through Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa...they still need some work.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,568
14,058
Central U.S.
With the exception of the robocall blocking, which I agree is nice, and the lower prices, which isn't really a customer friendliness thing, these all sound neutral or negative. Promotions, you have to chase them down, and they're just a form of price discrimination. Unlimited data, that only benefits you if you use a lot of data and hurts you proportionally if you don't (I don't). You pay for what you use on AT&T and most other providers; it's especially nice and simple on prepaid ones.

And yes, Binge On is still a distinct violation of net neutrality since they're treating traffic to/from certain services different from others, regardless of how services sign up for it. You may disagree that net neutrality is important, but that's separate. It's worse that the only supported services are large corporations, maybe due to those "technical requirements," and that it only works for 480p quality, which far oversteps their role as a data network.
I believe net neutrality is important. But I also think it's fine to give customers more functionality for free. I don't see this as a net neutrality violation since any company can participate. Net neutrality violation would be "Hey, we're going to shake you down or make some exclusive agreement for a big pile of money so that users can access your service at all or at a normal speed." The binge on thing is completely up to the customer as to whether they want to use it or not as it lowers video quality with the tradeoff that they don't count the data against their plan. And on my plan they actually gave me the "HD" option which is 720p which is fine for an iPhone. It's just a feature you can add to your plan and useful for a lot of people. More choice is freedom, especially when they are completely transparent about how it works, completely neutral about what service can opt into it, and it's completely optional for the user. I don't get why so many people get butt hurt about it. The whole point of it is to improve QoS on their network so users aren't bogging it down with 4K streams to 720p devices.
 

fairuz

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Aug 27, 2017
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Silicon Valley
I believe net neutrality is important. But I also think it's fine to give customers more functionality for free. I don't see this as a net neutrality violation since any company can participate. Net neutrality violation would be "Hey, we're going to shake you down or make some exclusive agreement for a big pile of money so that users can access your service at all or at a normal speed." The binge on thing is completely up to the customer as to whether they want to use it or not as it lowers video quality with the tradeoff that they don't count the data against their plan. And on my plan they actually gave me the "HD" option which is 720p which is fine for an iPhone. It's just a feature you can add to your plan and useful for a lot of people. More choice is freedom, especially when they are completely transparent about how it works, completely neutral about what service can opt into it, and it's completely optional for the user. I don't get why so many people get butt hurt about it. The whole point of it is to improve QoS on their network so users aren't bogging it down with 4K streams to 720p devices.
Net neutrality is what I quoted from Wikipedia and doesn't have to do with the ISP's pay agreements with websites. Long-term it's not good to let the ISP do anything except serve data. The practical issue with giving services out for free/cheap is it's the same as charging more for everything else. If you get internet service in a country where it's not neutral, like Mexico, the usual deal is "data costs a ton of money, but data is free or cheap if you use WhatsApp, Uber, Netflix, etc." This isn't that, but it's a start, and it's gone down that way in many other countries.

There's also the situation where nobody is behaving overtly maliciously, but only big companies can practically form these deals with ISPs. The deals seem to benefit everyone, but as a result, other companies are forever disadvantaged. It's like how Apple gets a tax break on building their campuses, worthwhile to the city because it's that or 0, while small businesses can't do that. I still don't think that any company can participate in Binge On, or else more would, and I haven't seen proof that video providers don't give T-Mobile anything to join.
 
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iDuel

macrumors 6502a
Jul 20, 2011
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Net neutrality is what I quoted from Wikipedia and doesn't have to do with the ISP's agreements with websites. Long-term it's not good to let the ISP do anything except serve data. The practical issue with giving services out for free/cheap is it's the same as charging more for everything else. If you get internet service in a country where it's not neutral, like Mexico, the usual deal is "data costs a ton of money, but data is free or cheap if you use WhatsApp, Uber, Netflix, etc." This isn't that, but it's a start, and it's gone down that way in many other countries.

There's also the situation where nobody is behaving overtly maliciously, but only big companies can practically form these deals with ISPs. The deals seem to benefit everyone, but as a result, other companies are forever disadvantaged. It's like how Apple gets a tax break on building their campuses, worthwhile to the city because it's that or 0, while small businesses can't do that. I still don't think that any company can participate in Binge On, or else more would, and I haven't seen proof that video providers don't give T-Mobile anything to join.
With BingeOn, video providers only have to make sure that their video streams are being recognized as video streams from that provider on T-Mobile's network. There's really no involved technical process to become a zero-rated service. I could see your point if the companies were required to sign joint sponsor or payment agreements with T-Mobile, but this isn't the case here.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,568
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Central U.S.
With BingeOn, video providers only have to make sure that their video streams are being recognized as video streams from that provider on T-Mobile's network. There's really no involved technical process to become a zero-rated service. I could see your point if the companies were required to sign joint sponsor or payment agreements with T-Mobile, but this isn't the case here.
Yeah, there is zero downside to this whole thing. People are getting upset over literally nothing and it only has upsides.
 

fairuz

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2017
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Silicon Valley
Yeah, there is zero downside to this whole thing. People are getting upset over literally nothing and it only has upsides.
Ok, we'll see how great things are when every ISP has their own equivalent of Binge On with additional tiers placed on top (T-Mobile already has extra tiers for Binge On to cover HD video).
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With BingeOn, video providers only have to make sure that their video streams are being recognized as video streams from that provider on T-Mobile's network. There's really no involved technical process to become a zero-rated service. I could see your point if the companies were required to sign joint sponsor or payment agreements with T-Mobile, but this isn't the case here.
If there really is no catch, then it sounds like every video streaming service will work with them. There should be thousands willing to do this. I only see a few on their site. Anyway, doesn't matter. A service provider shouldn't have to cooperate with an ISP to get their traffic treated the way they want.
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
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Ok, we'll see how great things are when every ISP has their own equivalent of Binge On with additional tiers placed on top (T-Mobile already has extra tiers for Binge On to cover HD video).
Yeah, and everyone else has nothing now. T-Mobile is offering more. See how that works? Also you get 50GB of data before being throttled which is a ton. It's a complete non-issue.
 

iDuel

macrumors 6502a
Jul 20, 2011
771
94
Greece/USA
Ok, we'll see how great things are when every ISP has their own equivalent of Binge On with additional tiers placed on top (T-Mobile already has extra tiers for Binge On to cover HD video).
[doublepost=1555660669][/doublepost]
If there really is no catch, then it sounds like every video streaming service will work with them. There should be thousands willing to do this. I only see a few on their site. Anyway, doesn't matter. A service provider shouldn't have to cooperate with an ISP to get their traffic treated the way they want.
Regarding the lack of services, I think it's important to note that T-Mobile's plans are all unlimited for the most part now which means that there is less emphasis on BingeOn. Services who wanted to participate had to send an email to T-Mobile, and they verified that they could recognize the video stream. I'm guessing the reason for it being opt-in was that being on BingeOn meant that the video streams were "optimized", or downgraded to 480p which some servies may not have wanted.
 
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fairuz

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Yeah, and everyone else has nothing now. T-Mobile is offering more. See how that works? Also you get 50GB of data before being throttled which is a ton. It's a complete non-issue.
Verizon has the same thing, so that leaves only AT&T among the big ones. It takes time for it to catch on, even if it's just technical implementation. The packet inspection and QoS are hardware-demanding.