U.S. wireless industry starting to look like Canada’s

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The landscape of the wireless industry in the U.S. is beginning to look an awful lot like Canada’s after the recent announcement by AT&T that it’s acquiring T-Mobile for $39 billion. This will be a merger of the 2nd and 4th largest carriers in the U.S. and reminds me very much of  when Rogers bought Fido in Canada several years ago. This deal will make AT&T the largest carrier in the U.S., surpassing Verizon. If Americans want to know what the future of the industry will look like after this deal is done, perhaps they can look at Canada as somewhat of a crystal ball.

Putting the interests of shareholders in both companies aside, this change to the industry will likely not be good for American consumers. People already complain a lot about AT&T’s customer service, although I don’t know if they are as bad as Rogers. The reduction in competition in this industry will be bad news for consumers. They will have less options with price, service quality and technology upgrades. It will likely still be better than the situation in Canada because they are starting from a position of better pricing, better customer service and more advanced technology. However, the similarities are ample.

After this deal is done (which is not a given, since the government needs to approve it still), the U.S. will have about 3-4 large competitors. This is essentially the same as in Canada. As I mentioned, they also have complaints about customer service, similar to Canada. The wireless industries in the U.S. and Canada will give the two countries something bad that they will have in common. Of all the industries in Canada, the wireless industry represents some the worst relationships between company and customer. Almost everyone has legitimate complaints about their wireless carrier.

This is bad news for the U.S. and the regulators that need to decide on whether to allow this deal to happen or not should look at Canada long and hard. This merger can set the U.S. back in the pace of advancement, as is the case in Canada. This is one industry that no country should be using Canada as the model. It is an industry that Canadians are not proud of and it appears that soon Americans will have the same misfortune.