So AT&T is trying to eat T-Mobile. OM NOM NOM. There have been several good articles that have come out over the past few days. Personally, I'm a fan of Ars Technica's rendition of this particular situation (credit to them for being the inspiration for my title). A lot of people are up in arms about this situation. Honestly, I think there are some angles in this whole debacle that have been neglected. I mean surely there are good things that could come out of this situation. Because there's some good in every situation, right?
Pros for current T-Mobile Customers
So, I think the most obvious lens to use to analyze this situation is the benefits that T-Mobile customers will receive. T-Mobile is the smallest of the big four national cellphone carriers. While I'm not sure exactly how AT&T plans to integrate the T-Mobile customers into their legacy network, I do know that it is something they're going to have to do if they want to maintain any notion of quality of service. Either that, or T-Mobile is going to have to remain as a separate company until a majority of their customers are on the 4G networks, which are compatible.
While I'm not sure what their integration plan will be for the months after the merger, they're going to have to do something. I think the most likely scenario is that AT&T towers will also begin broadcasting on the T-Mobile's frequencies - meaning near instantaneous better service for T-Mobile customers.
If anyone has found some documents that actually detail AT&T's plans in this regard I would love to see it. I still haven't seen anything concrete.
Cons for AT&T Customers
I couldn't have this article be too positive, because there are some honest con's - but I don't think anyone has thought about this one.
The biggest and most dramatic eyesore in this whole equation is the fact that AT&T's systems are going to have to be updated to cope with additional clients. I list this as a con because AT&T has been known to have some problems with their client facing systems before. Take, for example, the hack that lead to iPad email addresses being harvested. More notably, perhaps we should consider the iPhone activation woes that plagued many users? The fact of the matter is that AT&T has a horrible track record with making changes to their software, and some of us lucky few who use their web service from time to time are going to get to experience some of the joy.
I would advise anyone on AT&T to triple check their bill over the next few months.
Pros for Android Enthusiasts
[caption id="attachment_148" align="alignright" width="153" caption="Nexus One, a developer phone once sold as a retail phone."][/caption]
I think it would be nieve to neglect the possible advantages that could come out of this deal for Android Enthusiasts. One of the things I hate about phones is something called "bloatware", which is extra software that a manufacturer installed for promotional purposes. You typically have to go to great lengths to remove this software. Personally, I would rather not bother with that and the million other things that most consumers would not care about. So, because I'm a registered Android Developer, I have the option to purchase a Developer Phone from Google. A full-price no-contract phone with no strings or bloatware attached.
The one downside to this option is that currently, all of the developer phones are designed to run on T-Mobile's network. My hope is that following this merger, Google will start producing Developer Phones that run on Verizon or Sprint. They could, if they wanted, produce developer phones for AT&T - but quite frankly I'm not interested in buying one. Mostly because I just don't like AT&T. Sorry, nothing personal.
Anyway, a set of developer phones for other networks would be a huge step forward for Android development culture.
In all honesty, I think there are a lot of bad things that are going to come out of this deal. But I think these are some angles that occurred to me that were at least somewhat unique, so I thought I would share.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. Leave me some comment love and let me know what you're thinking!