The nation’s number three and four wireless carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint, are nearing a merger, an exciting development for corporate executives and fans of price-hiking alike.
In the current mobile market where the two brands are joined by Verizon and AT&T as major players, intense competition has led to impressive improvements in both service and price.
For instance, fifteen years ago, $40 per month would buy you 400 “anytime minutes” on Verizon, with text messages costing extra and no included data whatsoever. Now that same $40 will grant a customer “unlimited everything” on a family plan from T-Mobile, with Sprint charging even less.
But as anyone who watched the British Office or listens to Neutral Milk Hotel will tell you, the best things never last. And with a merger, Sprint and T-Mobile will likely lose the competitive incentive that led each company to offer more service for lower and lower prices.
Mergers in other industries, like air travel and health care, suggest that a small number of large companies serve consumers less effectively than a large number of smaller companies. While mergers can lead to streamlining of corporate expenses, there is less choice for customers, who themselves have limited avenues of recourse.
It’s kind of like how the ‘90s Seattle music scene was so fun when Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam were all one-upping each other… but now it seems like the only one left is Dave Grohl, and… it’s not the same.
So enjoy the low-pricing competition while it lasts, because this merger could be just around the corner. Foo Fighters will probably play the announcement event.