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Is T-Mobile Too Business As Usual?

T-Mobile is on the verge of a huge buy out. As everyone knows AT&T is hoping that federal regulators are almost done the approval for their proposed $39 Billion dollar buy out of the fourth largest carrier in the United States.

Let’s be frank for just a few minutes.  Although I’m going to incite the naysayers and the optimists, at this point in the game I am pretty confident that AT&T will get the approval of the merger. AT&T has a lot more money to spend on capital hill to push lobbyists, congressman and other influencers to sway in their direction.  Also, the brunt of the lobbying is done as the merger just needs the approval of the Department of Justice and the FCC at this point in time.

More after the break

What are we really looking at here. Mind you the FCC under a democratic administration, approved the deregulation of commercial radio back in the 90’s. If you’re any bit over 25 than you probably noticed that your favorite radio station is either watered down and in a building with at least half of the other radio stations in your city, or it’s gone completely.  Days are gone, when mom and pops could own a local radio station.  In one fell swoop, just one, one, a single one company, owns the bulk of the radio stations in the world, and this of course with the approval of the FCC and the DOJ.

The DOJ on the other hand is known for their approvals of Sears buying KMart, and an approval on just about every time you unwillingly changed banks, but didn’t stop going to the same location. Whether you want it or not, it’s a lot more likely for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger to be approved than to not be approved.

Want to know how I really feel?

It sucks. It sucks for T-Mobile who was a pioneer of not just Android but innovation as a whole. T-Mobile was the company that took a chance on Andy Rubin the first time around with the Sidekick, and again with Android.  T-Mobile is also the company that took a chance on a little Taiwan based company called HTC that had some slick innovative phones to run Windows Phone.

The T-Mobile PR Team is a lot more fun too. T-Mobile does god knows what with the Miami Heat, they’re always leaving a lasting impression with their ads.  They pushed the envelope with 4G and basically set the stage for the ITU to cave on their definition of 4G .  At T-Mobile events for us press folk they always have some really cool games and activities, photo booths, motorcycles to do speed tests and T-Mobile has a great relationship with celebrities.

Don’t get me wrong the other carriers have had some good events but T-Mobile has this “fun” aura about them even now as the merger gets close.

AT&T on the other hand has a network that, while large in size, is just meh. When you travel as much as we do here at thedroidguy and at our counterpart sites we know where coverage is good. Washington DC or Baltimore Sprint 4G is great. New York City, T-Mobile has awesome spots, San Francisco, it’s Verizon and so on and so forth. There’s not one city that I travel to where I’m like, ok I need to make sure my AT&T devices are ready to roll. Yeah they work and are great back up but not like the others.

AT&T has a much more serious PR presence at events.  Now they did team with LG for that cool 3D concert with Jane’s addiction but they are portrayed in T-Mobile commercials as stiff suits for a reason.

While Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint, is screaming at the top f his lungs about driving  vendor prices up and that there is no spectrum shortage, I agree with him on one part wholeheartedly and that is that the merger will stifle innovation.  Motorola isn’t the only one to blame in the lackluster sales of the Atrix and it’s webtop accessories, and come on admit it when it was first announced that was some cool ish.

But having lived through radio deregulation in the industry (my employer changed 4 times in 2 years while staying in the exact same office in DC) you begin to notice things. You begin to notice that the company being bought kind of just stops. They wouldn’t dare make any big new decisions, and this is at the same point in regulatory hearings.  Acquisition targets, when acquired often do what they need to do to get by and wait and see what happens.  T-Mobile is obviously not doing that.

Part of this can be the drive that is instilled in the company from their Bellvue headquarters, but you have to wonder if they see something we don’t. Does T-Mobile think they will be around in 2012?

T-Mobile is still putting out stellar hardware

T-Mobile is still changing caller plans

T-Mobile just announced a prepaid deal with 7-11 that would never fly at AT&T. Really can you see AT&T putting their devices, pre or post paid in 7-11’s?

T-Mobile just announced more carrier billing.  AT&T is often the last company to innovate something like that and it would have to be proven.

Maybe the folks at T-Mobile see something in the background that we’re just missing and maybe come next years CTIA there will be 4 major carrier CEO’s for a showdown. Unfortunately, unless another buyer surfaces that may not be likely.  T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom has said in no uncertain terms that they don’t want T-Mobile USA anymore, they want out of the market and the US branch off their balance sheet.

Now as I said earlier on in this post, from what I know about mergers (and I’m no expert) and I know about approvals I don’t see how the AT&T/T-Mobile merger won’t be approved, but I’ve been sitting on writing this op-ed piece for three weeks now because something keeps going off in my brain suggesting that T-Mobile is a little more business as usual than most businesses, just a couple months away from being acquired.

And by the way the picture above at that T-Mobile party, was post merger announcement, see what I mean about Fun!