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Reasons Why You Might Care About the AT&T T-Mobile Purchase

AT&T "announced today":http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/att-to-buy-t-mobile-usa-for-39-billion/?src=busln that it's reached an agreement with T-Mobile to purchase the company for $39 billion in mostly cash, making it easily the largest cellular...
March 20, 2011, 9:06pm

AT&T announced today that it’s reached an agreement with T-Mobile to purchase the company for $39 billion in mostly cash, making it easily the largest cellular carrier in the U.S. You care more than you think.

You care about vast sums of other people's (and sorta your) money. $39 billion, T-Mobile's pricetag, is a lot of fucking cash for America's fourth largest cellular carrier. For reference, that's over three years' worth of the operating budget for New York's subway system, or about $7 billion more than that entire budget for the state of Maryland.

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You have a T-Mobile or Sprint contract and really want an iPhone. Sprint, which will wind up a distant third in terms of customers (50 million) if this deal goes through, will also wind up the one major carrier that doesn't currently offer it. It's hard to imagine that being the case for long, however. Getting the iPhone would seem one obvious thing Sprint can do to stay in the race.

You are Apple. See above. Decreased competition can only be good for the iPhone.

You are net neutrality deep thinker Tim Wu, who tweeted this morning, “AT&T seems to have been reading the Master Switch,” his treatise on the growing internet censorship storm on the horizon.

You care about competition in business. Peak capitalism, folks. Companies competing against only themselves to offer consumers less product for more money. It's possible, and some would say very, that the FCC shuts this deal down. But, on the other hand, AT&T is touting the deal as helping to meet the U.S. government's aim of widespread broadband access. Both T-Mobile and AT&T use the same tech for their forthcoming LTE "true" 4G networks and, in its announcement, AT&T is promising to put even more emphasis on getting LTE to its customers.

To wit (from AT&T’s announcement):

With this transaction, AT&T commits to a significant expansion of robust 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population to reach an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans – including rural communities and small towns. This helps achieve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and President Obama's goals to connect "every part of America to the digital age." T-Mobile USA does not have a clear path to delivering LTE.

You think AT&T totally sucks. The massively increased demand put on AT&T's network has indeed made it sucky. By gaining more spectrum, this is something that AT&T can better address.

Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.tv.