AT&T’s New York President Hal Lenox Jr. told the Queens Chamber of Commerce that the company would acquire more wireless capacity in a proposed merger with T-Mobile.
For AT&T customers, the proposed merger is a step towards faster download speeds and better cell phone reception.
Lenox acknowledged that AT&T’s wireless service in the borough has been less than stellar for years. But he reassured the chamber that if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves the merger, customers won’t be disappointed.
“Your service will immediately get better,” he said.
But the FCC needs to approve the merger, which could take at least a year, and Queens customers won’t experience the network improvements until AT&T and T-Mobile can integrate their networks.
Fortunately for those customers, the two companies use the same wireless spectrum (the sites where the signals come from).
“So they can very easily use the same spectrum that T-Mobile has,” said Roger Entner, a telecommunications analyst with Recon Analytics.
AT&T experienced an influx of new users when it contracted with Apple and became the exclusive carrier of the iPhone. While that new wave of new contracts increased the company’s revenue, it also clogged its network – making it unreliable and slower. The merger with T-Mobile would be one of the solutions to that problem.
“We are working very hard to fix this problem and spending as much money as we can,” Lenox said.
The telecommunications company would acquire approximately 1,000 new cell sites in the merger. Lenox said the company recently launched three new sites in Queens and spent almost $1 million every day last year to make network improvements.
AT&T agreed to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion in March that would consolidate the wireless market to just three main companies; Sprint, Verizon and AT&T – giving customers fewer options.
AT&T and T-Mobile customers would not see any changes in their bills and would keep their current plans.
The merger would make AT&T the largest wireless carrier in the nation, but Entner said that the company’s market prominence would not determine which carrier consumers decide to contract with.
“The consumers don’t choose their wireless carriers by asking themselves ‘who is the largest carrier in this country? They’re asking who is providing me the best deal for what I want,’” he said.
AT&T has about 95.5 million customers nationwide – the company does not break down its customer base at the state or local level, said an AT&T spokesperson. But if the FCC approves the merger, it will service 96.3 percent of the American population, Lenox said.
The wireless carrier has 10 stores in Queens and will open another location in Flushing later this month – employing 128 people.
If the merger occurs, those employees would not have to worry about their jobs, but it might not add many either, Lenox said.