Oh hell no. Reuters writes that German publication Manager Magazin is reporting that T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom has been having talks to unload the “Un-carrier” onto Comcast. Yes, that Comcast.
“Deutsche Telekom is in talks with several parties, including satellite provider Dish, according to the magazine, but Comcast is viewed as a more attractive buyer by the German telecoms provider’s management,” Reuters explains.” Comcast would be a better candidate as it is financially stronger and would be able to make an offer to buy all shares in T-Mobile US.”
This is awful news.
T-Mobile has added some much needed competition and innovation to the wireless market over the past two years thanks to its creative initiatives that have included early smartphone upgrade plans, paying off new customers’ early termination fees, giving customers rollover data options, and ditching the traditional two-year service contract wireless business model. These moves have been good for consumers and have forced rival carriers to play catch up.
These are also the kinds of moves that Comcast traditionally hates. Like a lot of cable companies, Comcast likes it best when it doesn’t have to compete. Instead, it would rather establish a regional monopoly and squeeze customers constantly through price increases and mystery fees while padding its margins by under-investing in areas like customer service.
Comcast has also shown it has a unique talent for wrecking potentially cool products and services. Want to know why Hulu has been so pathetically bad at competing with Netflix? Comcast is a major culprit. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Hulu — which is partly owned by Comcast — was supposed to get a major financial promotion from the cable giant as part of a plan to really take on Netflix.
However, talks between the two parties broke down because “Comcast indicated it would want any viewer accessing Hulu to be redirected through Comcast’s own video players and platforms — a way to make sure Comcast has a window into customer data and ensure viewers saw its user interface.” Basically, Comcast was never all that interested in pushing Hulu and really only wanted to use it as a way to promote its own X1 set-top box.
The bottom line worked very hard to earn its reputation as America’s most hated company and we can’t see it changing its ways anytime soon even if it wanted to.
Just think about the devastating impact such an acquisition this would have on T-Mobile’s brand. CEO John Legere could still get up on stage and bash AT&T and Verizon for allegedly being anti-consumer… but now AT&T and Verizon could just point right back at him and say, “Yeah, but you’re owned by Comcast… HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!” Game over.
The truly awful thing about this is I don’t see any legal reason for the government to block such an acquisition. Unlike the AT&T-T-Mobile deal or the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, this isn’t about Comcast swallowing up a potential rival — instead, it’s about Comcast expanding its services portfolio.
At this point we’re just going to have to hope that Dish steps up and finds a way to take T-Mobile away from Comcast’s clutches. Because otherwise, the American wireless industry will take a major step backward.