The potential merger of the second and fourth largest wireless carriers would change the wireless landscape if it went through. AT&T would catapult to the largest wireless carrier, and combined with Verizon the two would control 75% of the market.
I wanted to know what Ohio consumers thought about the merger, and analyzed comments to the Federal Communications Commission. More than 800 Ohio consumers and organizations filed a comment with the FCC. For a NewsChannel 5 story, I found 94% of Ohio comments to the FCC were against the merger. The consumers I talked to were concerned about the lack of competition and the effect on prices.
Consumer Reports found T-mobile pricing plans are typically $15-$50 cheaper than similar AT&T plans. But, AT&T says historically prices fell 50% in the last decade despite other mergers.
In Ohio, most of the support came from organized groups like the NAACP who AT&T points out represents consumers. The Cleveland NAACP thought the merger would erase the digital divide by adding service to rural and urban areas without it today.
AT&T says the merger will increase its network capacity so much it will be like having a new spectrum. This will allow for faster data speeds and fewer dropped calls.
The FCC will ultimately decide if the merger can go forward. The questions include — will this harm wireless competition and is it in the public interest? The public comment period is over, but could reopen.
AT&T expects a decision by next spring.
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