Updated @ 10:47 EST, Quoted via Ars Technica: “A source familiar with Comcast’s thinking told Ars after this article published that it is not interested in buying T-Mobile. The source requested anonymity because the company tries to avoid making official comments on rumored mergers.
“Since 2012, Comcast has has a commercial partnership with Verizon Wireless that allows it to sell Verizon Wireless products in bundles with Comcast cable services. This partnership would also allow Comcast to resell Verizon Wireless service under its own name beginning next year.
“Four years from signing, Comcast could become a reseller of Verizon Wireless’ service through a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement. Comcast could purchase Verizon Wireless’ service at wholesale rates and then market and sell its own, branded wireless service in connection with our bundled offerings, creating more choice for consumers,” Comcast’s December 2011 announcement of the agreement said. The deal was approved by the FCC with some conditions in 2012.”
In the United States, one of the most desirable Cellular Networks is the Deutsche Telekom owned T-Mobile. It isn’t necessarily desirable for its network strength, however, but rather, due to its business model. T-Mobile operates under the idea that they will charge the consumer for as few unnecessary things as possible, compared to AT&T and Verizon that tend to tack on as many random charges as they can manage. For example: the majority of the Carriers in the U.S. have added a Phone Subsidy fee to your Wireless Plan for years – this was an easy way for them to encourage the Consumer to upgrade their phone and stay with that Wireless Company. However, it reached a point where, regardless of if you had a new phone or not, they were still charging you the subsidy fee tacked on to all the Plan prices.
Along came T-Mobile. After their business almost failed, they needed to rethink their business model. So, one of the first things they did was remove the Plan subsidy, and allow the consumer to opt in to paying for it by essentially financing a new phone from them. In response, the other carriers did the same thing, but didn’t drop their plan rates to compensate for the subsidy fee; they opted to keep the Plan subsidy on the contracts, and essentially charge the consumer twice for the same phone.
In addition to consumer-oriented initiatives like this, T-Mobile has continued to make several strides toward the Consumer’s best interest for the past few years. Again, while the Network strength and availability isn’t the best, in areas where T-Mobile does have coverage, they are the best available option.
With this in mind, though, the news that Deutsche Telekom are in talks with Comcast to purchase T-Mobile US (via Reuters), is rather troubling. Comcast hasn’t had the best track record for taking care of the consumer. Well … by “the best track record”, I mean “one of the absolute worst customer services available in the U.S.” Comcast regularly treats their consumers horribly, but they can do so because, like Verizon or Time Warner, they hold monopolies in countless cities – they essentially have little-to-no competition in the areas they’ve established themselves, so there really is no reason for them to care about the consumer. When people will pay for your product regardless of how you treat them or what they’re paying simply because you are the only available option, you can charge them whatever you want, and they will most likely pay it and put up with most of what you throw at them.
Considering the extreme contrast between how T-Mobile has handled their customers over the past few years, and how Comcast has almost always handled their customers, I really can only imagine the absolute worst, if Comcast does actually purchase T-Mobile U.S.
If that sale does go through, though, what options do people have? You could maybe go with Sprint – their network isn’t all too bad, and they have been doing a little better with their customers since T-Mobile became so desirable. But, personally, I think the best option would most likely be Google’s Project Fi.
The interesting thing about Project Fi is that they’ve partnered with both Sprint and T-Mobile, and will seamlessly switch between networks when coverage is better in a certain one. Now, my initial concern will be how Google will handle the network once T-Mobile is owned by Comcast, and, most likely, the contracts for Google’s usage of their networks is already in place for at least a couple years – my guess is that prices wouldn’t change for a little while, at least. Since you would be dealing with Google, not T-Mobile(Comcast) or Sprint, the likelihood of receiving quality customer service is higher. And, again, I think, if anything, the only thing that would change with how Comcast handles T-Mobile here, is simply how much they decide to charge Google. Which, again, I would assume the contracts are currently in place. Though, even if Comcast did raise the price, I can’t imagine the pricing would change too much on the consumer’s end.
The only downside with switching over to Project Fi from T-Mobile, though, is the data usage available to the consumer. One of the best things that T-Mobile offers is the Unlimited Data package. For $80 per month, you can use as much data as you want, without any fear of overage fees. But, Google is handling data usage a little more conservatively – though almost equally consumer-oriented, but in a different way. Google offers a base price of $20, then simply $10 per 1GB of usage after that. They will also refund you for whatever data you didn’t use out of the amount you paid for. For someone that doesn’t use too much data on their phones, this is actually a pretty good option. The cheapest plan with T-Mobile is $50, and you only get 1GB of data usage, compared to 1GB with Project Fi that only costs $30. Honestly, for someone that doesn’t use very much data at all, Project Fi is a very appealing option, and, honestly, you would have to use over 6GB of data to end up spending more with Project Fi than you would with T-Mobile.
With Project Fi only major downside is once you get over whatever you allotted data usage is. With T-Mobile, they simply throttle your speeds from 4G to 2G, and don’t charge you any extra costs. With Project Fi, however, every MB of data you go over, is charged to your account. Say you paid for 3GB, and you use 3.5GB, the pricing is $10 per GB, so they will charge you $5 extra the following month. Realistically, this is a pretty decent deal, but again, if you regularly use a great deal of data each month (I personally average around 10GB), the best option after T-Mobile, would probably just be to suck it up and go with Sprint. While their network isn’t the best, their fees, and the way they treat their consumers, is still a great deal better than AT&T or Verizon.
In the end, personally, I sincerely hope Deutsche Telekom does not sell T-Mobile US to any other company. But, companies do come and go, so this is mostly wishful thinking, on my part.