Few would disagree that owning Boardwalk and Park Place in Monopoly was a game changer. For the other players, a slight sense of panic would set in, and everyone would take a glancing inventory of multi colored cash on hand to see if they could survive such a hit. This is merely a reflection on the classic Parker Brothers game, but in the mobile service market, a similar event is taking place.
When AT&T announced a merger with T-Mobile, it turned heads. The second largest mobile provider, marrying the 4th largest, would create a powerhouse relationship that some feel is too much to allow. The Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit (and they rarely lose), and soon (but not surprisingly), Sprint jumped on board and backed the DOJ. There are stated that have openly backed both sides of the conflict, and there is even a pocket of democrats that have pushed for the merger to take place. AT&T has made it clear that they will fight the lawsuit, and have even gone so far as to create advertising explaining their mission, with the hopes of bolstering support. The whole ordeal has become a three ring circus, which could only be complete if celebrities start getting involved.
The DOJ lawsuit claims that the merger will end up costing mobile service customers more, and will raise the cost of services across the board. The potential blocking of the merger has some current T-Mobile customers applauding, as they do not want to be a part of the AT&T experience. The rumor has been that AT&T will continue to honor the T-Mobile contracts, but there are always ways around this, as anyone with a mobile device well knows.
No matter what happens, the show should be interesting to watch. It’s a testament to how much is at stake in mobile development and mobile service providers that this many people would get involved. Usually, the DOJ doesn’t stick their nose into matters that do not matter. We need to have the flexibility and freedom to choose our providers, and in order to have these options we need the competition in the market to keep pricing at a reasonable level. A good example of this failure is the cable TV industry, which has few players, and monopolized regions. It will be interesting to see these events unfold, but unfortunately consumers will end up paying the cost of legal fees and advertising through taxes and service contracts.