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T-Mobile customers worry AT&T merger could mean higher prices

Sarah Brusco

Sarah Brusco is happy with her current T-Mobile plan and worries that prices would go up after a merger. (March 24, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 This Morning at 6 o'clock / Thursday, March 24, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- It's a $39 billion deal between two of the biggest cell phone companies in the nation. AT&T is trying to keep up with the insatiable demand for data use by merging with T-Mobile. Millions of iPhone users helped AT&T gain billions of dollars, but those users are also using up AT&T's resources.

"Right now with 4G and faster phones, what we need is more spectrum. We're exhausting the spectrum we have on our existing infrastructure," said Josh Gelinas, an AT&T spokesperson.

By purchasing T-Mobile, AT&T says they'll have more coverage due to the added cell phone towers. "In our house people had to walk two blocks away to get coverage using AT&T. Everyone with iPhones and everything," said T-Mobile customer Sarah Brusco.

Brusco is happy with her T-Mobile service and she's worried about what the deal means for her phone plan. "We got T-Mobile for a reason," she said. "We would have chosen AT&T if we wanted AT&T. I'm concerned just about my plan and price changes to coverage and everything."

"Between 1998 and 2010 there were five significant communication mergers," explained Gelinas. "During that time pricing actually dropped."

AT&T does not offer unlimited data plans, but T-Mobile does. AT&T says they are not expecting any changes to plans or pricing in the near future for T-Mobile customers.

Customers with AT&T are more optimistic about the deal, and they are hoping it'll improve their coverage. "I think their service is excellent. I'm very happy with the wi-fi and 3G service. Hope to move up to the 4G." said Dennis Thompson, an AT&T customer.

By combining, AT&T hopes to keep up with its customers and data traffic, which grew 8,000 percent in the past four years. It is expected to grow ten times busier by 2015 compared to 2010.

Since both companies use the same technology, you don't have to worry about buying a new phone that's compatible with AT&T's network once the deal finalizes. T-Mobile also added in a statement they sent to News 12 that until this deal closes, the two companies remain competitors, and there are no changes in services for their customers

The deal will take approximately 12 months to close. AT&T and T-Mobile will have to go through a review process. An AT&T spokesperson says they are fairly confident the deal will get the green light from the government.

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