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April 7, 2011

AT&T+T-Mobile – Spectrum

Filed under: Random Thought — Tags: — Nate @ 5:45 am

One of the bigger things announced recently was that AT&T and T-Mobile are going to try to merge.

I’m watching an interview on CNBC with some bigwig from some company called Evercore Partners, whom is apparently an advisor in this merger.

Anyways one of the main arguments the guy tried to make (along with AT&T) is spectrum. That there isn’t enough spectrum for all of the wireless data that is out there and this merger will some how make more spectrum magically appear.

First off I have for a long time said that the edge data technology (wired or wireless) just doesn’t scale, period (and when I say scale I mean cost effectively scale you can make it go faster in many cases but then it becomes too expensive for almost everyone out there limiting the market opportunities, of course there are those out there that expect and demand gigabit speeds to their home for $20/mo).

This guy seems to forget that there are tens of millions of people using this spectrum already, giving it, and the customers to AT&T really isn’t going to have much of an impact from a spectrum standpoint. They may be able to drive higher capacity utilization so maybe they get an extra 10-20-25% out of it by segmenting their network better in some way, but the bandwidth available to that spectrum is going to be eaten up so fast customers won’t even notice it was there to begin with.

Both AT&T and T-Mobile have very large footprints in the Seattle area, and with all of the job cuts expected during the merger I suspect it will have a harmful impact on the local economy here.

The only good thing about this merger is at least AT&T picked a compatible technology to merge with (that is GSM to GSM), unlike the Sprint Nextel merger which was of course about as polar opposite technologies as you can get.

I like many believe the merger will hurt competition, specifically because T-Mobile has a someone unique position in the market from a pricing standpoint, and being a national carrier they have a lot of coverage. AT&T tries to bring up all these small regional companies as evidence of competition, but in the grand scheme of things they are just the scraps on the plate. I can’t help but assume the merger will result in T-mobile plans turning into AT&T plans at some point.

What we need is something like sub space communications from Star Trek, where data rates are a billion times faster than they are today that will give us enough buffer to grow in to.

My solution to the bandwidth crunch on mobile? Broadcast TV. Want streaming video on your phone? Stream it from the local TV stations in your area via digital antenna (e.g. don’t use the phone network, don’t use wifi). I’m not aware of phones that have this ability at this point though. Don’t have the content your looking for?  Oh well.

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