POSTED BY Yuen Yi Chung on October 18, 2013
Have you ever wished that your Google map would magically work when you are hopelessly lost somewhere overseas? Beginning October 31, T-Mobile customers who have one of the company’s “Simple Choice” plans will be able to use unlimited data and text for free in any of the 115 countries in its “Simple Global” plan. The only fee T-Mobile is going to charge is voice calling, which will run at a low 20 cents per minute.
Facing heavy resistance from both the government and the public, AT&T reluctantly called off its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile back in 2011. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a prepared statement, “The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to [the] spectrum shortage…In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled”. This controversial attempted merger would have made AT&T the largest wireless company in the U.S in terms of market share, and would have allowed it to become a monopoly once again after its first monopoly was dismantled in 1984.
The U.S Department of Justice had sought to block the merge in the name of preserving a vibrant and competitive marketplace. The government as well as critics speculated that consumers would have been the biggest losers in the merger because competition had kept T-Mobile’s prices one of the cheapest and innovative providers amongst national wireless players. T-Mobile has also stood against AT&T and Verizon on various regulatory issues, so if the merger had gone through, Sprint would have been the “odd one out”.
Maybe the Department of Justice was right. By preventing the merger, the government was able to avoid the need for intrusive regulation of the remaining giant firms. T-Mobile also proved Stephenson wrong. On top of its bold international expansion, T-Mobile announced that its 4G LTE network is now nationwide and claimed that their LTE network covers 91 of the top 100 largest markets by population. Amongst other changes that were quickly copied by some competitors, T-Mobile became the first major national provider to provide plans with no credit checks and it changed its phone unlock policy to accommodate a wide range of customers. Even Judge Louis Brandeis, the patron-saint of antitrust, would be proud.