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The future of U.S. cell phone carriers live chat with CNET editor, Kent German

by CNET Event admin / April 18, 2011 9:21 AM PDT
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AT&T rocked the wireless world last month when it announced a bid to acquire T-Mobile. If approved, the deal would create the nation's largest carrier, but what would it mean for consumers? And what would happen if it doesn't go through? Could T-Mobile survive?
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by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:24 AM PDT

Hi, everyone. Welcome to CNET's live chat. I'll be here for the next hour answering your questions on U.S. cell phone carriers. Use the box to submit a question.

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Tongue in cheek

At this wedding between AT&T and T-mobile, I heard there will be no reception. Comment?

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No reception
by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Tongue in cheek

But gifts in the form of new contracts will be more than welcome. Wink

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WebOS Future

Do you believe that webOS smart phones have a future competing with iOS, Android and Blackberry. Do you believe that all carriers will carry WebOS smartphones

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Do you think that if/when this gets approved, the cost will go down for all of the (T-Mobile & AT&T subscribers), being that T-Mobile is probably the lowest cost cell providers?

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by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Butcherman

AT&T says prices will go down, but that's doubtful. AT&T says T-Mo customers will be able to keep their service plans, but I'd guess they'll have to change them when the plans run out. And I can't see AT&T lowering their rates to match T-Mo's. Remember too that AT&T will be the only GSM provider. T-Mo always has cornered the market on this, so I'd hate to see that go away.

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Dropped Calls

I've been hesitant to switch to AT&T due to the number of dropped calls experienced by their customers. Do you think acquiring T-Mobile will have a positive impact on the number of dropped calls experienced by AT&T customers?

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by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Dropped Calls

In urban areas in particular your service may improve. AT&T will be able to increase spectrum efficiency and add cell sites.

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AT&T and T-Mobile

Will AT&T change there pricing? I'm thinking of going with Verizon because they offer the same plan as AT&T, but Verizon includes text with the plan. Where AT&T makes you buy text. Will T-mobile let customers go that don't want to be with AT&T without paying the penalty?

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Booby-trapped Android phones

How should I find out if an Android phone is rootable? I read that Droid X and some other phones have chips that automatically reset when you try to hack them, so you can't install plain vanilla Android and upgrade when you want, instead of when the manufacturer allows you to.

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Consolidation in the industry

Given the recent consolidation in the industry, Alltell bought by Verizon and pending T-moblie acquisition by AT&T do you believe that #3 Sprint will survive or be swallowed by Verizon, if T-mobile goes to AT&T?

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A good question
by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:40 AM PDT

Sprint's future is far from certain. If the merger goes through, Sprint has a number of advantages to promote including 4G, a decent handset lineup, and unlimited data plans. It also could become a T-Mobile of sorts by offering cheaper data plans. But those might not be enough and Sprint could be in danger form prepaid carriers like MetroPCS, especially if they go national. I doubt anything would happens soon, but Sprint will be facing a big threat if the deal goes through. That's why the carrier is fighting the merger tooth and nail.

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I believe the US Cell phone market will divide into 2 primary segments - 1) 4g with focus on content delivery and 2)3g with focus on traditional cell phone use.

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Interesting point
by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Frank

All carriers will move to 4G eventually. MetroPCS has LTE and US Cellular and Cricket have announced plans. 4G is inevitable.

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Next Nexus

This is a follow-up to the question on Androids. Do you have any inside info on when the next Google phone (Nexus) will arrive? I'd prefer a keyboard but I would want even more a phone that runs the latest OS.

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Smaller/regional carriers

Given that the FCC has a chance to impose their will in some way on AT&T here, will they do anything on behalf of the smaller and regional carriers to a) insure their survival and/or b) help them compete in these "fringe" markets?

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Smaller carriers
by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:43 AM PDT

I think the smaller carriers like MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular, and Cellular South will be fine since they can compete with prepaid and no-contract plans, unique services and different handsets. I wouldn't be surprised if Cricket and MetroPCS merged, though. The FCC help them by ensuring that spectrum isn't gobbled up, though.

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How can I know what phones track my locations or violate my privacy in similar ways, and what phones don't?

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Hello, my company has invested a lot into our Blackberry infrastructure. BB's have allowed our users to manage Corporate email, calendar and contacts. In the last couple of years, though, other smartphones have been able to manage corporate email accounts (iPhone, Droid, Windows7, etc). Our wireless carrier renewal period is coming up which is going to give us a lot of options on some very competitive devices. What are your recommendations on smartphone device selection?

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Apple location database issues

How do you think the issue with Apple location tracking database will play out. I'm shocked that everyone else is shocked by the revelation. Though I did think it was encrypted.

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Is t-mobile in trouble, to the extent a take over is necessary?

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by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:51 AM PDT
In reply to: T-MOBILE

T-Mobile isn't in the best shape. Though it offers cheap plans, good customer service, and decent phones it remains the smallest major carrier and has been losing customers. This merger isn't its only path to survival by any means, but Deutsche Telekom would need to invest big resources.

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Service Speed and Quality

How will the 4G interpretation affect comparisons and how will coverage and quality be impacted by the AT&T - T-Mobile merger?

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4G integration
by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:56 AM PDT

AT&T has unused AWS spectrum it could use for LTE. There's no doubt T-Mobile's spectrum would help in the rollout, but not getting it is not quite the doom and gloom scenario that AT&T is putting forth. And AT&t is stretching the truth when it says T-Mo has no path to LTE at all. Remember that with 3G, T-Mo and AT&T are incompatible so integration would need to happen there. With 4G, though, both are moving to LTE.

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4G Speed

Which carrier has the best 4G speeds and coverage in NYC?

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competition post-merger

Proponents of the merger assure consumers there will be plenty of competition afterward. Consumer groups think a duopoly with 68% of customers and a "triopoly" with 80% cannot possibly result in competition that will provide better service and lower prices. What is your view and why?


-Jeff Bernstein, Seattle

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Simm cards

In most European countries you can purchase an unblocked smart phone and then purchase simm cards for whichever carrier works best for the region. I have been told that it is possible in the US for those who want only the ability to text and use the internet and not use many phone minutes per month. Is this possible and is it worth it? Thanks.

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Will it happen?

Kent, do you think this deal will be approved?

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Will it be approved?
by KentGerman CNET staff / April 26, 2011 2:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Will it happen?

Honestly, I don't know. The FCC approved the Comcast deal, which surprised me, so it could go either way. Fierce opposition is mounting, though, not only from Sprint but also from consumer groups. I've also read a lot of editorials against it, even from The Economist. Keep in mind that spectrum and having one GSM carrier willb e big issues.

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Decision on Merger

When is the decision for the merger coming down? I haven't received anything official from T-Mobile yet.

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