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MetroPCS customers won’t see a brand name change after merger with T-Mobile

Posted October 14th, 2012 in FCC, Government Regulation, MetroPCS, T-Mobile USA and tagged , , by Alton Drew

Last week, T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS announced intent to merge their companies. On 11 October 2012, MetroPCS, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, distributed the following notice to its customers:

What does this potential T-Mobile combination mean to me?

Nothing will change with your service, your plan or your phone, or where you can pay your bills or receive customer support. MetroPCS remains focused on providing an exceptional wireless experience with state-of-the-art 4G LTE service and smartphones at a tremendous value. Each day, we’re seeing thousands of people upgrade to and choose MetroPCS’ 4G LTE because of our unmatched unlimited offering. We think our tremendous value proposition will only get better after the T-Mobile combination. But for now, it is business as usual with the same driven focus on delivering exceptional service and experience to you.

Upon completion of the combination with T-Mobile, the plan is to keep the MetroPCS brand name, our places of distribution and the way we do business. The only real difference you should see is that MetroPCS will offer an even broader array of affordable, cutting-edge handsets and mobile services for the same great value you have come to expect from MetroPCS. This will mean you have more choices, more coverage and greater access to a faster, broader, higher capacity 4G network — where you live and in more cities throughout the U.S.

When is the potential T-Mobile combination expected to complete?

We expect the combination to close in the first half of 2013, subject to MetroPCS stockholder approval, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Will my rate plan or mobile services change?

No. Your rate plan will not change as a result of the announcement of the T-Mobile combination. You will continue to receive an exceptional mobile experience at a great value and the price of your plan will stay the same.

Your mobile service will not be affected by the announcement of the T-Mobile combination. We will still provide the same mobile service you’ve come to expect, choice in services and handsets – while still offering affordable unlimited talk, text and data.

Upon completion of the combination with T-Mobile, we will have the opportunity to offer you an even wider selection of affordable, cutting-edge handsets and mobile services. This will mean more coverage with greater access to a larger 4G network — where you live and in more cities throughout the U.S.

Will MetroPCS’ rate plans still be unlimited and tax inclusive?

Absolutely. All MetroPCS customers currently on a tax inclusive plan will remain on such and all new customers will continue to be offered unlimited tax and regulatory fee inclusive rate plans.

Does this mean that I will be required to sign a contract for wireless services, or am I now under a contract?

No. You are not required to sign a contract to continue to receive your current service. MetroPCS remains committed to providing you affordable wireless service with no annual contract.

The completion of the T-Mobile combination will not change our no-annual contract model. Our plan is for your service to continue on a no-annual contract basis providing you with a great mobile experience at the best value.

How long will my handset or smartphone work on MetroPCS with the impending T-Mobile combination?

The announcement of the combination with T-Mobile will not interrupt our ability to provide wireless services to you.

You will continue to be able to purchase or upgrade your handset from the current and future lineup of handsets available at any local area MetroPCS store, on your handset via MyMetro app, or at metropcs.com.

Upon completion of the combination with T-Mobile, you will have more choices, more coverage and greater access to a faster, broader, higher capacity 4G LTE network. And, you will have a broader array of affordable, cutting-edge handsets for upgrade purposes and a broader array of mobile services to choose from for the same great value. We do anticipate that by the second half of 2015, customers who have not already upgraded their handsets, will need to upgrade their handsets to one of the wide range of affordable, cutting-edge handsets that will be available at that time.

How do I pay my bill? Can I pay at T-Mobile stores now?

For the immediate future, continue paying for service as you always have through the existing MetroPCS payment channels. If those channels are expanded in the future, we’ll communicate that information to you as quickly as possible.

Again the transaction is expected to complete in the first half of 2013 — subject to MetroPCS stockholder approval, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. And during this time, MetroPCS and T-Mobile will be, and continue to operate, as independent companies and continue to compete vigorously – having no impact on MetroPCS’ day-to-day operations.

I’ve heard that T-Mobile intends to force MetroPCS customers to move to T-Mobile as soon as the combination is completed. Is that true?

Absolutely not. Existing customers will continue to experience the same great MetroPCS coverage you have come to expect.

Immediately, nothing will change with your service, your plan or your phone. MetroPCS will remain focused on providing an exceptional wireless experience with state-of-the-art 4G LTE service and smartphones at a tremendous value. Each day, we’re seeing thousands of people upgrading to and choosing MetroPCS’ 4G LTE, and we think the value we offer will only get better after the T-Mobile combination.

Over time, customers who choose to upgrade to one of the affordable, cutting-edge smartphones that will be available will also have the benefit of experiencing an even larger and faster 4G network that combines the best of T-Mobile and MetroPCS.

Will I get better coverage?

One of the key benefits of the proposed combination with T-Mobile will be deeper 4G LTE network coverage and a clear-cut technology path to one common 4G LTE network and the ability to migrate customers to a faster, broader, higher capacity 4G network.

More specific details about changes to coverage areas will be available in the future. We will keep you updated on our progress and other important developments

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FCC order on cable-LEC transactions won’t impact broadband negatively

Posted September 17th, 2012 in Broadband, cable company, CLEC and tagged , , , , , by Alton Drew

The Federal Communications Commission today released an order that allows cable operators to acquire competitive local exchange companies. Section 652(b) of the Communications Act limits cable company ownership interest in a local exchange carrier to more than ten percent.

The FCC ruled that 652(b) is not applicable to cable companies seeking ownership interests in competitive local exchange carriers. Finding that allowing cable companies to acquire CLECs would have no anticompetitive effects, the FCC decided to forebear the application of section 652(b) to these transactions.

I don’t believe that the FCC’s decision will have a negative impact on broadband services. Provision of broadband by a well capitalized CLEC is better than getting shoddy service from a carrier that is on the brink of bankruptcy or considering leaving a market.

Besides, cable companies were among the original CLECs. They had the technology to compete against the LECs and have proven the most successful of all CLECs in my opinion because they have their own facilities. As far as I’m concerned, failing to forebear application of section 652(b) to cable companies would have equated to preventing CLECs from merging with CLECs, versus the fear originally faced by Congress that cable companies would put CLECs out of business. They are one and the same.

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Speaking of Free Market-based Spectrum Allocation …

Posted May 9th, 2012 in MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, wireless communications and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

Looks like MetroPCS and T-Mobile USA are thinking of hooking up. T-Mobile and MetroPCS are allegedly in merger talks, according to Investor’s Business Daily. The transaction would see the combined company come under control of T-Mobile’s parent, Deutsche Telekom. AT&T was unsuccessful in its bid for T-Mobile, and Sprint had its eyes on MetroPCS but I guess couldn’t close the deal.

If the deal is approved, the two companies would be able to acquire spectrum from each other and have at least 42.8 million customers.

Will the Federal Communications Commission play spoiler? I don’t think so. This transaction gives the FCC an out for two reasons. First, approving the transaction will show that the FCC is willing to allow the market and not Don Quixote politics to allocate spectrum. Second, it takes the FCC off the hook for putting the number four wireless carrier in a position where it was considering saying auf wiedersehen to the American market.

Again, Sprint may be left without a date to the dance.

NCAAOM needs to take a closer look at section 257

Came across a press release issued by the National Coalition of African American Owned Media back on January 15. You know, Dr. King’s birthday. You figure that given the shooting in Tucson and Dr. King’s birthday that advocacy groups of all stripes would call a cease fire. But to steal a phrase from my favorite rap group, Run-DMC, it was a dream. I mean after all, we are talking about Washington.

Anyway, the NCAAOM has taken issue with the Federal Communications Commission preparing to bless the joint venture between Comcast and NBC Universal before it has even filed its triennial section 257 report. This report is supposed to give Congress the 411 on the FCC’s efforts to remove barriers to entry that are impeding access by entrepreneurs and small businesses to the telecommunications and information services markets.

Well, I decided to read the section, hoping that it was not long and drawn out like a Clarence Thomas opinion. I looked for language that says that the triennial report must be filed before Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal. I didn’t see it.

I looked for language that says the report must be filed before any merger. I didn’t see it.

What I did see was what the judicial warrior types call a “chilling effect.” Imagine the chilling effect on competition and market synergies if a triennial report were required to be filed prior to every and any merger. For us FCC watchers we know how slow the FCC is. Heck. They are over a year overdue on their 2009 triennial report.

Just imagine if two companies needed a deal to go through and that this deal would help one of the companies avoid bankruptcy, ensure the flow of services to consumers, and make investors whole. Could you imagine the market disruption if the transaction were delayed because the FCC has to file a triennial report? It would mean that any and all mergers would have to be initiated and completed very close to the release of a report before the findings of the report got stale and inapplicable to the conditions facing the two companies.

Sounds to me that NCAAOM’s agenda entails a whole lot more than looking out for a diversity of minority media voices.

Oh well, let me shut up before my five readers compliment me by saying I sound like Scalia.

Extending program access rules to online video is wrong

Interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal about the Comcast-NBC/Universal merger. The issue is whether Comcast post-merger should be required to provide access to its own content to competitors, specifically online video content providers. My answer is no.

Will start up firms like Sizmo be willing to pay the license fees for public performances or will they complain to the FCC about that as well?

Seems to me that the program access rules that require cable companies share access with direct broadcast satellite providers should be abandoned, not expanded to include online video content providers such as Sizmo.

I’m sure there are a number of unemployed writers, actors, musicians, etc., that can be tapped by these start up content providers to create and disseminate their own content rather than biting on a competitors intellectual property.

Also, this sounds like a first test for corporate speech. Abrogating the right to share information and property with the entity of your choice was not envisioned by the country’s founding fathers and is out of step with today’s values of fairness.