Expect Cellular Prices to Go Up; Service to go Down

This is really an informational piece, along with some whining on my part, since there is not much you can do about this.

The FCC today approved the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, thereby reducing the number of cell carriers from 4 to 3.

The republican members of the FCC said that history not withstanding, this is good for you and me.

Somehow, they think, with less competition, carriers will be more motivated to spend billions of dollars upgrading their networks to support 5G.  They didn’t explain their logic.

It is likely true that the remaining cell phone companies will install some 5G cell towers in super densely populated areas like in the downtown areas of major cities, but beyond that, they have zero motivation to attempt to keep up with countries like China, which already has 10,000 operational 5G cell base stations.

Here is a map of each city where at least one carrier has one 5g cell site.  Colorado’s was in front of Denver City Hall, but the carriers are working on turning on more sites.  Remember that (a) you must  have a 5G capable phone (Apple is rumored to be releasing one mid next year) and (b) be located OUTSIDE within a few hundred yards of that 5G cell site.

5G Coverage


For example, taking Denver (cuz I am partial to that), Verizon claims to have at least one cell tower live in 5 areas: Potter Highlands, Highlands, LODO, Central Business District, Capitol Hill and the Denver Tech Center.

Contrary to the FCC’s claims, none of these are rural;  rural customers should expect to see 5G cell sites sometime after never.  After all, I can’t even get broadband Internet and I am  only 20 miles from downtown Denver, but in a sparsely populated area.

Expect the combined T-Mobile/Sprint to fire about 10,000 to 20,000 people (according to Wall Street) as they close redundant stores and merge back office operations.  The union says the number is likely closer to 30,000.  You can’t really blame T-Sprint for doing that.

According to insiders, the FCC actually approved the merger in May, months before the Justice Department said the merger was anti-competitive, but the current administration is more willing to allow the market to do whatever it does.

The FCC did require Sprint to sell it’s prepaid phone business (used by people who don’t enough money to buy a traditional phone plan, hence not very profitable to anyone) to Dish and also to sell Dish some spectrum.  Dish is now planning on getting into the phone business as the satellite TV business continues to decline.  For the moment, since Dish has, well,exactly, zero towers, it is going to buy service from the 3 carriers who do have towers, but within the next 5-10 years, they will build out networks, likely in the same densely populated areas as where the current 5 G build-out is being done.

After all, the deregulation of Ma Bell worked well.  That business is completely in the toilet now and will probably disappear in a few years.

By the way, both Canada and Ireland reduced the number of cell carriers in their countries from 4 to 3 and prices went up for consumers in both cases.  I am sure it will be different here.

Sprint has been trying to merge itself into profitability for years now, but this time, they were smarter.  They hired a number of ex-FCC commissioners to lobby for them and dramatically ramped up their use of Trump’s DC hotel.   Hmmm.  What could possible be wrong with this?

Stay tuned.  This deal is still not completely done as a dozen State Attorneys General have filed suit to block the merger.  Whether the courts say that they have any standing in the matter is to be determined.  Source: Vice


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