Why care? Wasn’t old Ma Bell reliable and lead the world in telephony development?
That was then. This is now, when more than half of adults in the US between 25-29 years old don’t use landlines -- the landlines that AT&T dominated in the last century. The AT&T of today isn’t the old Ma Bell. It’s the re-amalgamation of Baby Bells (once elements of AT&T’s vast empire), acquisitions like Cellular One, Cingular Wireless, and much, much more.
What’s the short term effect? Verizon Wireless, the carrier I use, has ended smartphone all-you-can-eat data plans, in favor of tiered data plans, much to the immense consternation of their clientele. Why make their clients unhappy, you might ask? Because they can.
The alternatives now offered, when AT&T&T and Verizon have 80% of the US market are small. Sprint, hobbled by their relationship with Clearwire and costs associated with 4G/LTE and a historical problem with customer service that is now said to be improving is the longshot, dark horse in the race.
There are a handful of other carriers who will feel slimed by lack of mention -- but they’re statistically insignificant.
Behind the scenes are an army of lobbyists and lawyers working the halls of US Congressional Office Buildings in a full-court-press attack on those that would oppose the merger. This tactic has obviously worked before. I watched as in my neighborhood, Indiana Bell became Ameritech became Southwestern Bell. In a reverse merge deal, Southwestern Bell, already bloated with acquisitions, became AT&T after divesting certain assets.