The other day the mobile world was rocked when seemingly out of nowhere AT&T announced that it had agreed to acquire T-Mobile for a cool $39 billion dollars. The reactions across the industry and with consumers varied widely, some folks thought this wouldn’t ultimately be a good thing, while others argued it was one of the worst possible outcomes they could imagine. I’m one of those people that feel like it won’t be good for former T-Mobile customers from a cost perspective. When the acquisition is complete, T-Mobile as a brand will be phased out and only AT&T will remain. At the time it was easy to see the situation from only the micro level of it being bad for some folks pocketbooks, but after taking some time to assess and reading some of the comments you all have left, there is a much bigger and more immediate issue here than possible higher monthly phone bills and less competition. There is the issue of the impending loss of jobs that this deal will cause.
According to the fact sheet released with the deal, AT&T currently employs 266,950 people, while T-Mobile employs 37,795. The two companies would combine to have just a shade under 300K employees, but that won’t ever happen. Since the companies use the same basic technology (though slightly different approaches) it’s obvious that there will be a lot of redundancy as far as skill sets. The employees at AT&T already have functions so the easy target will be the incoming T-Mobile employees. I wouldn’t be surprised if within the next 12-36 months AT&T lays off somewhere 20%-50% of those people. From a business perspective it makes sense, but for the people who will inevitably lose their jobs, it won’t make it any easier to deal with. I mean we are talking about between 7K- 18K people who could possibly be out of work within a year or two after this deal closes. When AT&T bought Cingular they pretty much decimated Cingular’s workforce after it was all said and done. Any former Cingular employee can attest to that. Of all the employees, the retail store employees are probably the safest since I am sure T-Mobile has some store locations that AT&T would want to keep, but even then you have to believe that in places where there is an AT&T and T-Mobile store in close proximity, the T-Mobile location loses.
In an already tough economy this part of the deal isn’t necessarily going to play well. I don’t want to make AT&T sound like bad guys, they are just doing what it takes to maximize their bottom line and I can understand that. On the bright side, this deal faces some serious regulatory hurdles and won’t be finalized for at least a year. It will only be from that point that these events will go into motion. If you are a T-Mobile employee it might be prudent to start looking for a plan B just in case so you’re not blindsided if the day does come and sadly for some of you it will.
To my T-Mobile employees out there what do you think about this deal? Have you heard anything about AT&T’s plans for what amount of the workforce they might plan to retain? How about my former Cingular employees, can any of you share your experience about how things went when Cingular got bought by AT&T? We want to hear from you in the comments, let us know how you feel.