By: Gracee Arthur
A funny thing happened in Malibu this weekend which helps prove the government’s anti-trust case against the proposed AT&T “merger” with T-Mobile. Sometime on Saturday September 24th, 2011 AT&T towers were down in much of Western Los Angeles including Malibu. When I noticed my phone searching for a network for an inordinate amount of time I phoned AT&T only to hear the bad news in a recorded message. The outage was extensive and lengthy which was unfortunate for anyone in the effected area who may have had an emergency situation. Here in Malibu we are used to the poor service offered by AT&T so we just sucked it up as our fate.
The outage reminded me of when AT&T was allowed to buy Cingular (essentially what a merger is) to “improve” their service in various areas and widen their coverage area. AT&T had poor reception in Malibu (and many other areas) while Cingular was terrific here. The merger happened and for a very brief time our coverage was a bit better, until the rest of the deal was implemented by the FCC. The merger required AT&T to sell towers in various areas, including Malibu. Suddenly we had dead spots everywhere; near Geoffrey’s, Carbon Beach, Heathercliff Rd. and other former “hot spots” along the PCH! So while this merger eliminated a competitor of AT&T, it did nothing too benefit the consumer but rather raised prices and reduced service. Any AT&T “merger” with competitor T-Mobile threatens to harm the consumer further with higher prices and poorer service. This problem exists with cell service nationwide from Malibu to Manhattan and the government’s implementation of the anti-trust law is way over due.
I would suggest consumers make their feelings on this merger known to their elected representatives and to their cell phone carriers. A monopoly in any business or industry never benefits the consumer, which is why anti-trust laws exist in this country.
The previous President and his administration refused to implement these laws so it is a positive sign this administration is taking action. However, we must keep the pressure on the government not to cave in to AT&T’s lobbyists! Competition helps keep consumer prices down, as well as improves customer service. I also believe AT&T should provide credit to all customers impacted by the lengthy outage and any others which occur in the future.
What do you think?