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And then there were three

News broke on Sunday that AT&T has unveiled a plan to buy T-Mobile for a reported $39 billion.  The move would make AT&T the largest cell phone carrier in the nation with 130 million customers surpassing Verizon Wireless’ 102 million.  According to a report in the Huffington Post by combining companies AT&T will now serve about 43 percent of the U.S. cellphones.

AT&T’s chess move to be the nations leading cell phone carrier spells trouble for consumers, as there could be a ripple effect down the line.

T-Mobile had been aggressive in offering lower prices for their voice and data plans in order to compete with the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint but with the merger there will only be 3 cell phone carriers in the nation.  What guarantee do current T-Mobile customers have that AT&T won’t raise prices?  With less cell phone carriers in the nation the big companies, Verizon and AT&T can raise prices knowing consumers have no other choice.

“We know the results of arrangements like this – higher prices, fewer choices, less innovation,” said Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn in the same Huffington Post report.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in the same article that one of the goals of the acquisition would be to move T-Mobile customers to smart phones, which have higher monthly fees.

Despite being rated as the worst cell phone carrier by Consumer Reports in December 2010, AT&T may have started a wave of change.

It’s important to note that Sprint had been in talks to buy T-Mobile and then take on the big boys, but the fairy tale ended when AT&T unveiled its plan

Perhaps AT&T took it to heart when T-Mobile started ripping them on television.

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