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AT&T The Courts United States Your Rights Online

Seven States Pile On To Block AT&T/T-Mobile Deal 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the writing-is-on-the-wall dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New York, California, and five other U.S. states have joined a lawsuit initiated by the Department of Justice that would block AT&T's merger with T-Mobile. 'The revised filing comes ahead of a court hearing next week, when the two sides are scheduled to discuss the prospects of a settlement. AT&T has said that it will contest the Justice Department's lawsuit, while also seeking a potential settlement.' CNet notes that 'States don't have the power to block the deal, but they can influence the federal regulators and make it more onerous if AT&T attempts to negotiate for concessions to close the deal. They can also slow down the process with their own lawsuits.'"
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Seven States Pile On To Block AT&T/T-Mobile Deal

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  • So who do I write to try and get my state to help block this as well? I assume my congressman but I don't think he actually gets my letters because if he does they must show up under spam. Perhaps I should lie to Rick Perry and say I'll vote for him if he supports this. I mean if politicians lie to me I can lie to them right?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Snail mail if you aren't sure about e-mail making it through the filter.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234)
        My snail mail doesn't end up being read either. Or at best, some intern skims over it just enough to press a button on the form letters I always get in return. I don't recall ever getting a letter back that actually addressed anything I said. Maybe the rep eventually gets a spreadsheet tally of [issue x]:[for|against]:[contributor|nobody].

        But they do sometimes invite you to a constituents breakfast. So if you're likely to be in the right place at the right time, you might get a chance to bitch in a w
        • by __Paul__ (1570)

          This article on writing letters to government ministers [crikey.com.au] was written with Australia in mind, but it contains some interesting tactics that might well be worthwhile for getting a decent response from US politicians, too.

          • by SomePgmr (2021234)
            Interesting. It seems obvious, but it never occurred to me to make sure the letter deals with more than one topic, to help prevent easy categorization for a single automated response.

            And maybe I'll have my next letter sent from a lawyer-buddies office, so the letterhead will get some kind of attention.
            • by DCFusor (1763438)
              Someone once said, to catch mice, make a noise like a cheese. In this case, it sure does work better to appear to be a potential campaign contributer. Just sayin'. This is from practical experience (and success).
            • Or just make up your own custom letterhead for a fictitious law firm.

      • Re:Who do I write (Score:5, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday September 16, 2011 @05:37PM (#37425062) Homepage Journal

        I've worked with, for and among political offices. It's very well known in that biz that a written letter is much more effective than email, unless you're already an associate of the recipient.

        Snail mail is always best for corresponding with politicians and officials with whom you don't already correspond regularly. They're more likely to have it handed to them, because they're mostly old and think email is for people who think for a living, not schmooze. And even if it's just a staffer who reads it (and maybe mentions it to the politico - or better yet, gets it to influence the work their office actually does among other staffers), a letter is better. Lawyers and other official correspondents use snail mail, sometimes as required by law or contract. And the people who write letters tend to be people who vote. Both because they tend to be older, and more office-oriented, and to be people who put actual time into the political process.

        • by Firehed (942385)

          They're more likely to have it handed to them, because they're mostly old and think email is for people who think for a living, not schmooze.

          It's so reassuring to know that the politicians don't even pretend to think.

          • They don't bother reading the bills they vote on either.

            • by Doc Ruby (173196)

              No, they read the snailmail letters from the lobbyists. Or rather their staff reads them. The letters tell them how to vote, and why they care. If you get your letter in there with the lobbyist's, you have a chance. The political game is entirely defined by access. And snailmail has access that email still does not.

    • Re:Who do I write (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 16, 2011 @04:48PM (#37424684)

      You should write your state attorney general [wikipedia.org], that is the official who deals with this. You have [theoretical] power over the attorney general, since that office is usually elected.

    • > say I'll vote for him if he supports this

      You'll give yourself away as a literate, thinking citizen, which is perhaps not his target demographic.

    • Normally, one would write to your state's Attorney General. Judging from your comment about Rick Perry, that would be Greg Abbott, the AG of Texas. He's already suing Google, so he might be OK with this.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Call his local office and find out when he'll be in the state. Then show up at his office. They try to never set anyone up to be able to say "I went to the Congressman's office, and he threw me out without seeing me." Also, if you are "writing" your congressman and fear a spam filter, you are doing it wrong. I did business in a building with congressional offices in it and rode the same elevator with Ted "tubes" Stevens once, so they do exist and do make it into their local offices at least occasionally
  • but if they don't, they should give the T-Mobile customer the ability to cancel/change their contract with no penalty or fees.. I sure as hell didn't avoindf AT&T and become a T-Mobile customer just to end up an AT&T customer.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Change it to what exactly? The whole point is that the merger would reduce and in some cases eliminate consumer choice in celular carriers.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Change it to another company, where available. Is there anywhere that ONLY has T-Mobile and AT&T? I could at least got to sprint.

    • I'm assuming consumer interests will not be served and AT&T will be allowed to proceed after greasing a few palms. With this in mind does anyone have any recommendations as to which carrier to switch off to and why?
      • If this goes through, the only viable alternative is VZW because they will be the only real competition AT&T-mobile will have in the market.
      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        I don't use them, but many coworkers really love their Sprint plans. I have been pretty happy with VZW, but I would not join them anymore as they no longer offer unlimited data.

  • by laing (303349) on Friday September 16, 2011 @05:15PM (#37424876)
    AT&T and T-Mobile are the only two GSM providers remaining in the USA. The other competitors (Verizon and Sprint) use CDMA technology that uses different frequencies and different modulation schemes. GSM is a more popular format worldwide because it is not patent-encumbered. CDMA phones typically lag in technology by several years. A USA monopoly on GSM is not in the best interests of anybody but the monopoly holder. This is why they are willing to pay 10 times more for T-Mobile than they would spend to upgrade their 4G network to full coverage.

    As much as I detest government interference in business, I hope that these anti-trust lawsuits are successful. This is exactly the sort of thing that the anti-trust laws were intended to prevent. Given the resources ($$$) of AT&T, I expect strong lobbying and eventual approval of the deal.

    JSL

    • The other competitors (Verizon and Sprint) use CDMA technology that uses different frequencies and different modulation schemes. GSM is a more popular format worldwide because it is not patent-encumbered. CDMA phones typically lag in technology by several years.

      Which is why I have a CDMA Samsung Galaxy S2 from Sprint a month or so after the international launch and before AT&T and TMobile offer it. .

      Also, Verizon and Sprint run on the same CDMA frequencies and have a bilateral roaming agreement. And CDMA is a more efficient modulation, allowing more users per MHz of bandwidth than any other technology.

      • Which is why I have a CDMA Samsung Galaxy S2 from Sprint a month or so after the international launch and before AT&T and TMobile offer it. .

        Also, Verizon and Sprint run on the same CDMA frequencies and have a bilateral roaming agreement. And CDMA is a more efficient modulation, allowing more users per MHz of bandwidth than any other technology.

        True with 2G but GSM 3G uses Wide Band CDMA so the special efficiency is essentially the same.

        • True with 2G but GSM 3G uses Wide Band CDMA so the special efficiency is essentially the same.

          Good point, although I think you meant 'spectral' efficiency. :-)

    • by Microlith (54737) on Friday September 16, 2011 @05:32PM (#37425006)

      GSM is a more popular format worldwide because it is not patent-encumbered.

      Really? I find it hard to believe that GSM is not patent encumbered. My impression was that the lack of being hard-tied to a device was what made it so popular in Europe (what with their quaint notion of Consumer Rights) and it spread from there (and has grown by inertia to everywhere CDMA is as well.)

      • And the underlying multiplexing has changed from TDMA to CDMA anyway. Time division multiplex was a stupid idea from the beginning.

  • Where was the love for T-Mobile before the merger or even since? Customers a leaving in droves. They lost 280,000 net subscribers last quarter. I bet most of these people saying that they don't want the merger to go through aren't even T-Mobile customers or never plan to be. It's the economics that are putting T-Mobile out of business. DT is just trying to get out now before the only option they have left is to part it out. So, unless you're a T-Mobile customer, please quit whining against the merger.
    • by tgeek (941867) on Friday September 16, 2011 @05:44PM (#37425130)
      It's perfectly valid for anybody - T-Mobile customer or not - to argue against the formation of a monopoly. It's won't be easy to stop this one before it forms. But if it is allowed to form, it will be virtually impossible to fix later.
      • by todrules (882424)
        First, it won't form a monopoly. There will be 2 other major carriers besides AT&T. Second, yes, anybody can argue against the merger, but all it does is put off the inevitable. Hell, I bet in a ways AT&T might even hope it gets blocked. Then, they could just buy the spectrum at firesale prices. But, either way, just the announcement of the merger sealed T-Mobile's fate. At least with the merger, the employees have a chance at a job. If DT piece-meals out the assets, then nobody at T-Mobile will hav
        • First, it won't form a monopoly. There will be 2 other major carriers besides AT&T.

          An oligopoly [wikipedia.org] is hardly much better. Oligopolies have a reliably tendency to act a lot like monopolies. Each of the firms is well aware of the actions of the others and while they will compete, in general prices will generally be higher and the firms will retain more profits [wikipedia.org]. If you want to see this in action look at the pricing of text messaging. The cost of it to the carriers is a good approximation of zero and yet they are able to charge huge margins on it. In a competitive marketplace this should be

        • I hope you're not implying that Sprint or Virgin are "major carriers."

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        I'm a T-mobile customer, and I don't want the merger to go through. If I wanted to be an AT&T customer I'd have signed on with AT&T. I picked T-Mobile because their plans are cheaper, are more flexible, their phones are better (in my opinion), and they have less of a tendency to try to extort $800 out of you when somebody on your plan messes up.

        If they get bought I suspect that they won't get around to dismantling 4G coverage for my phone before my contract ends. If they try to get rid of my plan

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Have you considered that they are leaving BECAUSE of the merger? Who wants a 2 year contract with a company that is destine to be sold to someone you don't want to do business with? The 280,000 lost customers isn't a sign that people don't like T-Mobile. It is a sign that people don't like AT&T
  • Not to be baiting the flame, but does it matter if this merger gets blocked anymore for us T-mobile customers? I realize the merger has not gone through officially, but something has happened on T-mobile's end already that has turned the provider to shit.

    Prior to the merger announcement way back when, I could access T-mobile's website and easily find a few different customer service numbers that would connect me to operatives almost immediately. There was even one number specially reserved for existing c
    • by cbhacking (979169)

      I haven't seen any of these problems. TMO in the Seattle the area is still fast and reliable, and I have more coverage (first-party, not roaming) than I did last year. The month-to-month plans are harder to find now, but they still exist. I've only had to call support once, but it was easy. The response was quick, the guy spoke English with an American accent, and he fixed one problem immediately and helped find the cause of the other.

      I'm going to be very upset if TMO-US no longer exists independently when

  • With 2 call centers at risk, you would think CO would be all over this. Time to get involved...

  • As a T-Mobile customer who hates T-Mobile, but refuses to go to Sprint (their coverage sucks), Verizon (too damm expensive), and both of these providers use CDMA, (I want a phone I can take overseas if I travel). So I personally would LOVE to have AT&T take over T-Mobile, if for nothing else then the added phone selection that I will be able to access.

    Look, Deutsche Telekom is not going to invest any more money into T-Mobile, so someone will have to buy it, AT&T is as good a choice as any.
    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Have you considered the rather drastic step of, i dunno, switching providers?

      As long as we're speaking of the issue as if our opinions mattered at all, certainly there's far less grief involved in that than in forcing everyone who actually likes T-Mobile to have to switch to AT&T against their will.
  • Again [slashdot.org] and again [slashdot.org] there is nothing wrong with the merger, it will create more pressure in this market, notice that it is not consumers, who are coming out with the lawsuit, just as always, it is the competing companies, who are afraid they will have to do actual real competition, find ways to cut prices, figure out how to increase customer satisfaction.

    • by andydread (758754)
      Your advocacy for giving recreating Ma-Bell and for powerful monopolies in general is astounding and quite an anti-free-market stance. The free market works best when there is competition. Duopolies damage the free market. Monopolies damage the free market. A free market cannot work if there is a lack of consumer choice. When companies get so powerful they then have the power to push other players out of the free market thereby reducing choice and dwindling the marketplace to the point where there is
      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Monopolies are only created by government intervention. [mises.org] The lawsuit is brought forward by companies, who are afraid of incoming competition from a larger entity, but the only real monopolies are always enjoying government protection.

        Free Market is market that is free of GOVERNMENT intervention, not a market that has no larger economies of scale. Consumers gain from economies of scale, and in this case especially, this is a good move for consumers, as they will see increase of competition, not decrease of i

        • by andydread (758754)
          Thanks for this info. Can you explain to me how the government created the Microsoft monopoly? Thanks.
          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Can you explain to me what is your specific problem with Microsoft?

            Free Market allows economies of scale to exist, if a company dominates the market for some time it only means that this is the cheapest product that can be provided at the best quality that can be provided for some time.

            Obviously competitors were forming while Microsoft had its success. From Apple to Free software, competition was coming on line.

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with a company that dominates market for some amount of time, o

            • by andydread (758754)

              I did not say I have a problem with the Microsoft monopoly. You claimed that all monopolies are created by government. I just wanted you to elaborate on the government's involvement in creating the Microsoft monopoly. I am having a hard time finding any information to that effect. As far as the Google monopoly goes I think i figured that one out. Government created the Internet (apranet) and now Google has a monopoly on searching the Internet. So government created the Google monopoly. Just want to

              • by roman_mir (125474)

                You claimed that all monopolies are created by government.

                - I am still claiming it.

                Monopolies are systems that are maintained by government regulations, taxation, laws, subsidies. Monopolies do not form in absence of government, in absence of government economies of scale can form, but if they are not serving the public interest of low cost and high value, then they will lose customers to somebody who will provide lower cost and higher value.

                Government created the Internet (apranet) and now Google has a monopoly on searching the Internet.

                1. Google is not a monopoly.

                2. TCP/IP was only one protocol out of variety of other protocols that already existed prior t

                • by andydread (758754)
                  Yes but how did the government stop others from competing with Microsoft on the same grounds of copyright thereby allowing Microsoft to gain monopoly status? DId copyright stop others from competing with Microsoft? Did the copyright laws only apply to Microsoft at the time? Just don't understand how the government through copyright laws created the Microsoft monopoly. thanks.
                  • by roman_mir (125474)

                    Copyright is part of regulations, which inhibit business formation.

                    In this case the inhibition comes in form of protection of Microsoft against redistribution of the product bought from them by third parties. Copyright laws do not allow alternative channels of distribution, which would compete with the original creator/provider. You may or may not see this is a 'good' thing, but regardless of the moral objections it prevents competition in distribution of the material from forming by government protection.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Uh, I'm a customer and I oppose the merger.

      What do you propose - that I file a lawsuit against AT&T and T-Mobile? They'll no doubt have the jurisdiction transferred to some court halfway across the country, no doubt citing some provision in my contract that allows this. Then they'll probably try to dismiss it. I don't have the luxury of taking a year off of work to write legal briefs, or the money to fly out to deposition corporate shills and show up in courtrooms who knows where. It would be a hard

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Uh, I'm a customer and I oppose the merger.

        - excellent. Then you have the most important vote of all - vote of your dollars.

        You can spend your money elsewhere, and that's the only message that counts. Getting government into this will only worsen the situation in the long run, as all government involvement does.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Uh, who do you propose I give my money to? I want to give it to T-mobile, and the forces of monopolization are slowly getting rid of that option for me.

          Natural monopolies are a perfectly valid place for government interference. If you don't want the government to dictate how you operate, then don't buy cell phone towers.

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            There is no such thing as a 'natural monopoly', but there are economies of scale and there are government created monopolies - franchises and AT&T was one of these, and over 3000 companies were destroyed by the government to achieve that [mises.org].

            • by Rich0 (548339)

              Well, I'm fine with splitting up the cell companies if that is what you're proposing.

              My solution would be that companies that provide cell phone service should not be permitted to own either towers or spectrum. Just standardize the protocols and have utilities run the towers and sell bandwidth to cell phone providers. You'd have multiple utilities in any given area, and no utility could cover more than so many square miles. Now no one company holds enough sway to control prices.

              In any case, the original

              • by roman_mir (125474)

                No, my response is not that you shouldn't complain. My response is that customers who don't like the service should vote with their wallets, not try and destroy the free market by attacking it with government dogs.

                • by Rich0 (548339)

                  I do like the service. How do I vote with my wallets for an option that the "free market" is about to get rid of?

                  Besides - a situation where there are only 3-4 companies in a given space is hardly a "free market."

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