Should government regulators let the nation's worst phone carrier - already a colossus - grow even larger through a blockbuster acquisition that would turn it into the biggest cell phone company in the United States?That question is soon to get taken up by the Justice Department. On Sunday, AT&T announced it had reached agreement to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $39 billion.
Sounds like a thrilling proposition if you're a shareholder at Deutsche Telekom. As for all the rest of us, you would be within your rights to offer a more restrained reaction. Oh, that crack about AT&T being the worst phone carrier around - that's not personal opinion: Last December, Consumer Reports published the results of a survey which reported that AT&T was the only carrier in its poll of subscribers whose overall satisfaction ratings had dropped "significantly."
In the days and weeks ahead, AT&T is sure to spin the deal as pro-consumer. But an acquisition of T-Mobile would also mean the disappearance of a cell carrier famous for its aggressive use of cheaper voice and data plans as a way of competing against bigger rivals. It would also leave just three national carriers: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
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