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Atlanta’s entrepreneurs have choice in wireless broadband

The state of Georgia was recently named number one for business climate and at the heart of that success is the city of Atlanta. Atlanta has been particular inviting to black entrepreneurs over the past decade as seen by the increase in the city’s black-owned businesses.

Entrepreneurs may find it more appealing to be in the Atlanta area because of the choice of wireless broadband providers they encounter. At least seven licensees have access to the airwaves to provide wireless services in Fulton County, Georgia, within which Atlanta is located.

I could not verify that one of the licensees is still in business, and the mergers of Clearwire and Sprint and merger of MetroPCS and T-Mobile has arguably reduced the number to four, but even at that number, consumers still enjoy choice. According to Federal Communications Commission data, here is a list of the wireless licensees:

Access 700
Sprint Nextel

Although Verizon and AT&T are the big boys nationally, it’s not like they have a monopoly on spectrum licenses in the Fulton County, Georgia. For example, while AT&T has eleven licenses, a combined Sprint Nextel-Clearwire holds 14. Verizon has six licenses while a combined T-Mobile-MetroPCS has five.

Tried getting my sister to leave T-Mobile but she likes their calling plans and their policy for upgrading phones. Sorry Verizon.

This is why it’s perplexing to hear some advocacy groups rant about the lack of choice. If we didn’t have robust competition, these entrepreneurs wouldn’t be here.

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NAB wants to see MetroPCS, T-Mobile transaction go through

Last week the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to bless the merger of MetroPCS and T-Mobile. NAB’s president and chief executive officer Gordon H. Smith made some strong free market arguments in support of NAB’s position. Mr. Smith said that the remarkable power of the free market was enabling wireless companies to address spectrum concerns.

Mr. Smith opined that, “[t]his merger is part of an essential transformation that the wireless industry has undergone over the past year alone. Wireless carriers have responded to the initially surprising surge in demand for data by restructuring to rationalize their considerable spectrum holdings.”

Mr. Smith goes on further to say that the merger will help wireless companies use spectrum more efficiently and that “the transaction will address major spectrum constraints facing both T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS by combining their highly complementary spectrum portfolios.”

If anything the merger speeds up the transfer of spectrum from one spectrum holder to the next. It is a lot faster than the voluntary auctions slated to start later this year that would send spectrum from television broadcasters to wireless communications providers. It would make sense that NAB is pulling for T-Mobile and MetroPCS to pass muster. It would probably put less pressure on its member stations to dip their toes into the auction soup.

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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

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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T-Mobile finds a merger partner

Posted October 2nd, 2012 in Department of Justice, FCC, Government Regulation and tagged , by Alton Drew

The today reported that T-Merger is in talks to purchase MetroPCS. According to the report the combined companies would have approximately 33 million subscribers. The company would still be in fourth place behind number three Sprint.

I don’t expect the Federal Communications Commission of the U.S. Department of Justice to do a thumbs down on this merger. Neither agency can use the anti-competitive effect argument here.

MetroPCS said in a Form 8-K filing that, “MetroPCS today confirmed that it is in discussions with Deutsche Telekom regarding an agreement to combine T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS. There can be no assurances that any transaction will result from these discussions, and the Company does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.”

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Will the FCC have another mega merger to consider?

The Internet is blowing up not only with news of the sale of Apple’s iPhone 5, but also with the speculation that Sprint may be considering a little mischief in the mergers and acquisitions arena. One commentary on Seeking Alpha reports that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse may be considering buying a smaller carrier after the build-out of the company’s 4G LTE network.

Who might be the potential buys? They may include MetroPCS, Leap Wireless, or U.S. Cellular. Of course this is all speculation, but should Sprint make a move to purchase one of these carriers, I would hope that the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Department of Justice would have the good economic sense to let this merger go through.

First, such a move would satisfy the FCC’s alleged preference for competition and the benefits it brings to the consumer. An enlarged Sprint could reach more consumers and with the increased economies of scale, they would be able to serve those consumers at lower costs than with its current network.

Second, with a company like Leap Wireless in its portfolio, Sprint can not only continue providing unlimited data plans to consumers, but has another brand that can extend wireless broadband services into lower income markets. These would mean more consumers adopting wireless broadband and enjoying its benefits of connectivity.

Third, the FCC need not worry about a duopoly remaining in the wireless market after the transaction is completed. Sprint may end up a stronger third alternative to AT&T and Verizon.

But hey; what about T-Mobile? T-Mobile may be out of play simply because T-Mobile runs on a GSM network while Sprint CDMA network. Why incur the additional expense converting T-Mobile over to Sprint’s network when U.S. Cellular, MetroPCS, and Leap Wireless run on CDMA.

Finally, there is no reason for government interference in the making of a market in such an instance. Wireless carriers have naturally been expressing demand for spectrum especially since the introduction of the iPhone In 2007 began the onslaught on spectrum we see today.

Oh well, we’ll stay tuned.