What Does AT&T Buying T-Mobile Mean for Android?

by: Darryl DoakMarch 22, 2011
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All hail the new king. This could be a sad day in the Android world. The biggest supporting carrier in the USA is in the process of being bought out by the most stringent carrier of Android devices. T-Mobile, who has consitently released some of the leading Android handsets, will soon be no more. The long lived brand names of the G-series (G1, G2, and soon to be released G-Slate, and G2x), myTouch(myTouch 3G, myTouch 3G Slide, and the myTouch 4G) and the newly revived Sidekick 4G, will soon be killed off for brand names that potentially don’t even exist yet, and have no mind-share in the consumer market.

The carefree data plans of T-Mobile will soon be a thing of the past. Currently, I use about 6GB of data a month, and recall one month where I used 3GB in the span of a week. Well, those days will be soon be gone forever with AT&T’s 2GB DataPro plans. I’ll most likely have to hop from one Wifi hotspot to the next. I will also miss T-Mobile’s blind eye towards tethering use on rooted phones. Just last week, AT&T sent out emails and letters telling rooted handset owners that they need to cease tethering or the “DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering” plan would automatically be added to their accounts. Let’s not forget to AT&T’s blocking of Sideloading apps in their Android handsets takes away the last smidgen of freedom you might have had. What happened to Android being a customisable, open platform? Not under AT&T’s iron fist.

I’ve read over and over, “Do not stop buying T- Mobile handsets. Everything will be ok.” Well, in my head, another unfortunate thing is how the value of T-Mobile Smartphone handsets will likely drop one year from now. With the news that the purchase has gone through, T-Mobiles 1700mhz AWS band will be reprovisioned from 3G/4G HSPA+ to AT&Ts 4G LTE network, and that will mean none of the current crop of T-Mobile’s Smartphones will work on AT&Ts 3G or the new 4G LTE network. Who will want to use a Smartphone on Edge service? Right now I’ve been watching the local Craigslist martket on the pricing of a myTouch 3G because I happen to have one sitting around, and they go for approx $70-$100 depending on condition. This is a phone that’s well over a year old. Some smartphones tend to hold their value even as they age. Currently, I have a myTouch 4G as my primary handset that, at this point, could turn around and be sold for $300. Soon, it will be likely be worth substantially less. It will be as good as an iPod Touch – without the Apple cult following driving the price up. My two year old daughter will probably enjoy it more, for I,  nor anyone else in America, will have any use for it.

The final thing that saddens me is that the cost of ownership of our beloved Android Smartphones will, in all likelihood, go up. Right now, Sprint and T-Mobile are the value leaders in the Postpaid market. Both Sprint and T-Mobile’s entry level smartphone plans cost $80 a month to have a 4G Smartphone on an Individual line with Unlimited Messaging and Unlimited Data. On AT&T, the cheapest you can configure their entry level smartphone plan is $75 a month with Unlimited Messaging and 200Mb of data. Really? 200MB of data? I’d chew through that with my Twitter client auto checking for updates. It’s $85 a month with Unlimited Messaging and 2Gb of data, which might be usable, but, if you require more data than 2GB, you’ll be paying the handsome sum of $105 a month for the 4GB DataPro with Tethering plan. These prices are then bloated even more when one compares the Family Plans of T-Mobile to AT&T’s family plans. When I heard this news I was in shock, and now today am still in disbelief.

I’m ready to jump ship as soon as the purchase goes through, but I dont know who to jump to. Sprint is now the cheapest carrier, but I like being able to swap SIM cards and not deal with the website or calling Customer Service to swap ESN’s. Verizon is barely any better, with their plans being more expensive than AT&T, but at least they offer a true “Unlimited Data” option, for now. So how many of you T-Mobile customers will stick with AT&T after the buyout? How will the forced metered Data effect your monthly spending? And how many of you are hoping that the FCC and DoJ block this purchase? I certainly am.

  • Steve

    Isn’t it about time the customers started a revolution?
    I, for one, have had enough of the big carriers treating the customers like dirt. Inflated prices, huge fees for minimal data, and for me, huge call plans whereas I use about 10 calls per month, tops.
    Why should I have to pay for 450 minutes when I only use 10?
    Why should I pay for 2GB of data per phone – plus perhaps tethering – when I use less than 2 GB between all devices?
    I say again; Isn’t it time we had a customer revolution?

    • Darryl Doak

      I’m with you Steve. I think we’d get arrested, but I think you and me should hang out outside of AT&Ts headquarters with pitchforks and torches. I think that might get the message across. :)

  • BobbyPhoenix

    I’m hoping for the fall through. I’m thinking in the back of my mind that the fail clause is the real T-Mo’s goal. To have it inked, and then have the deal fail, so T-Mo gets 3 billion, more spectrum, and a stronger foundation to build on. Yeah it may just be my “half glass full” thinking, but I refuse to think T-Mo would let themselves get gobbled up by the Evil Empire. The only saving grace if it does happen is there is some fine print where it says after it goes through that AT&T is required to keep T-Mo as the brand, prices, and quality, and most importantly, for the users to use the phone as they please. Tether, wi-fi, side-load apps. With NO penalty! :-)

  • Sam

    If the deal goes through current Tmobile 3G phones will be USELESS after the merger. How many millions of customers must buy new phones? AT&T bought out Cingular and did anything improve? They still come last in coverage and service. I was planning to go to Tmobile, but now changed my mind. AT&T flat out sucks. I know so many former AT&T customers that went to Tmobile. Do you think they want to go back? LOL. Sprint and Verizon will get more customers after this merger for sure.

  • Amanda

    This is exactly why I do not go with the larger companies. I have Virgin Mobile. I have an android phone and for $40 + tax and get 1200 minutes, unlimited text and data. Stop feeding the corporate fat cats!!