AT&T has dropped its bid to merge with wireless competitor T-Mobile. The politics, regulations, legalities, and opposition by the FCC, just made the attempt to hot to handle.
But now the question comes up… what’s to become of T-Mobile and its customers?
On a short-term basis, practically speaking, probably not much. “Our focus is unchanged: make the latest mobile products and services affordable for everyone,” T-Mobile CEO Jim Alling said in a statement released yesterday.
However, there is the less practical side of things. Fear. It may be the biggest battle T-Mobile will have to fight the next few months… and perhaps longer.
Look at it this way, would you want to sign a new two year contract with a company that might not be here in two years? Oh sure, it was fine when it looked like AT&T was going to back them up. In fact, many T-Mobile clients may have been looking forward to that. But now a contract with T-Mobile is a contract with the unknown.
And that won’t affect just individual shoppers. Enterprise customers play a big role in the business of wireless carriers. Enterprise customers are businesses, government agencies, or large nonprofits that contract with the carrier to provide phones and service for employees. Enterprise customers are pretty darned picky (with good reason). They will be very resistant to signing a contract for ongoing service, not knowing what will happen with T-Mobile.
Manufacturers may also be reluctant to offer their newest and hottest phones on the T-Mobile network. They will be looking for long term success and stability, and would certainly be reluctant investing their most promising products with a carrier whose future is uncertain.
To keep the T-Mobile brand alive and valuable, and to maintain and grow its customer base, the company will need to show us shoppers a roadmap to where they’re going. Well, not just show us, but convince us that they have a stable future. Whether T-Mobile’s owner, German based Deutsche Telekom, plans to try to sell the company or have it continue it on its own, is immaterial. Current and potential T-Mobile customers will just need to know if their cell phone service will continue to work without issues and without any negative changes.
If T-Mobile is unable to provide us with a convincing portrait of its future, the long term outlook is bleak.