T-Mobile Merger 'Synergies' Culminate In Massive 12 Hour Nationwide Outage

from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept

For much of the last year, T-Mobile and Sprint insisted that their $26 billion megamerger would result in untold amazing “synergies,” lower prices, and better service. You know, pretty much the complete opposite of what US telecom merger history indicates and antitrust experts had predicted. And so far, the antitrust experts have had it largely right; the company has been busy laying off employees at its prepaid division (despite repeatedly claiming this wouldn’t happen), and the DOJ’s attempt to cobble together a fourth replacement carrier out of Dish Network appears to be bogged down in infighting.

This week, T-Mobile’s wireless network experienced a massive, twelve hour outage that left users unable to call or send text messages:

“In our own tests in New York and Seattle, we found that making calls from a T-Mobile phone would fail almost immediately after placing the call. We also found that the cell service on our phones was intermittent, with bars occasionally dropping to zero or losing access to high-speed data.”

Initially, since telecom giants love to avoid explaining (or giving any transparency whatsoever into outages), rumors falsely suggested that the outage was due to a massive DDoS attack. Experts like Brian Krebs later speculated that the cause of the outage was at least partially due to efforts to integrate the Sprint and T-Mobile networks:

Obviously combining the massive footprints of two major US wireless carriers is going to come with some headaches. But it’s worth repeating that this wouldn’t be happening if regulators had heeded experts’ warnings and not rubber stamped the merger in the first place. The outage was enough to warrant a stern Twitter talking to by FCC boss Ajit Pai, who called the outage “unacceptable” and insisted the source of the outage would result in an FCC investigation:

Again though, there are a few problems here. The outage wouldn’t have happened if the FCC hadn’t ignored all warnings and objective data and rubber stamped the gigantic, cumbersome, and unnecessary job and competition eroding deal (before commissioners had even read their own staff’s impact analysis, no less). Pai has spent the last three years pandering to the telecom industry by giving it everything it wants, including the death of privacy and net neutrality protections, merger approval, and a few feckless wrist slaps for one of the biggest privacy scandals in modern internet history.

Now comes a point when he’s supposed to actually “investigate” a problem, and there’s not much faith that anything will come of it. T-Mobile won’t willingly admit the merger integration caused the outage, and given he has a vested interest in defending his merger approval, Pai isn’t likely to admit as much either. T-Mobile could very easily lie here and provide a reasonable-sounding alternative explanation for the outage, and the FCC–beholden as they are–wouldn’t challenge this in the slightest. The only way to determine T-Mobile was telling the truth would be a full investigation–the kind this FCC would never actually do because it conflicts with Pai’s hands off ideology.

Regulators don’t always need to actually regulate. Often it’s beneficial if they don’t. But they need to retain the impression that they’re tough, objective, and could take action at any time so that companies know that there are penalties for malfeasance and incompetence. But when you spend three years mindlessly pandering to an industry you used to work for, the message is sent loud and clear: you will face no serious repercussions for pretty much anything of note.

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Companies: sprint, t-mobile

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Comments on “T-Mobile Merger 'Synergies' Culminate In Massive 12 Hour Nationwide Outage”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

OK, look, you’re an uninformed idiot and I am a testifying expert that was on Capital Hill this week, because my opinion COUNTS more than YOURS!

JUST look at Hannity and you will see that I had to SHOUT over HIRALDO RIVERIA because this OUTAGE was PLANNED to DEPLATFORM me and I HAD TO use a FUCKING CELL PHONE to SCREAM MY OUTRAGE!

I wasn’t sick, I’m not sick, and I’m not taking any time off. I ‘m HERE FOR THE FIGHT!

YOU CAN’T SUPPRESS BONGINO! THER EIS ONLY ON!

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"there are three kinds of people in the world"

I think your blinders have blocked your vision, or perhaps you suffer from tunnel vision, idk. Anyway … there are many more kinds of people out there, you are just not aware or do not care.

Is it possible for you to calmly explain each issue you have and why you think everyone is out to get you.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Have you ever seen that show with the guy who puts together a whole package, I mean, the outer layer of leather and then pork ribs and then oranges all wrapped up in a package to simulate lungs and flesh and bone and tissue and then SHOOTS it repeatedly from different angles and at different distances and then SHOWS YOU how the Oranges are OBLITERATED and that means if you shot someone their LUNGS would be GONE and you would WIN and everyone would LOVE YOU and then you would be PRESIDENT? Have you seen it? Totally cool.

Upstream (profile) says:

Brian Krebs has long been an excellent source for information on a wide range of telecom and Internet-related security issues. You can count on his finger being pointed in the right direction. Give him some time to dig into this, and we will likely see an article on the nuts and bolts of what happened. Karl has explained why it happened.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Look, tell the truth, "Upstream", you’ve never been in a serious Fight in your life! You are a coward and hide behind a fake name on a fake web site and spout your shit without any skin in any game at all. I’ve been in fights! I once knocked an asshole like you RIGHT into a MUD PUDDLE when I was like 12! And I learnt what it was to FIGHT! Your pulse RACES, your vision NARROWS, you FOCUS on KILLING and EATING and SMASHING and FUCKING and THEN you want MORE AND MORE AND MORE and then, well, then you (eventually) have to calm down and come back to reality and be like other people. That’s pretty much my story and the story of anyone who’s EVER been in the Military or anyone who’s EVER been a COP So FUCK YOU My RAGING VOLCANO WILL PUT AN END TO YOU if you dare cross me. Other than that, thank you for your consideration and maybe next time you can be a little more polite, please.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not true. I once had this lady who could suck my dick like there was no tomorrow but then I was tired of her and she had a new boyfriend who was old and I was underage and went to a dancing bar and got drunk off my ass that that bad lady told that old man that she hated me and he PUNCHED me right in my NOSE, blood and everything, but then Donald Trump (who was the bouncer) knocked that man on his ass and I’ve been his BEST IMAGINARY friend every since.

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This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Sadly, I’ve been asked to recall that story time and time again. Usually from assholes like you that want to fight. I don’t like fighting. I like winning. And WINNING and WINNING and WINNING. Did I mention I AM RICH and I first CAME HERE when TRUMP WON THE ELECTION and I bet ALL MY MONEY on AMERICA and now I am RICHRICHRICH!

Did I mention that?

Anonymous Coward says:

My Sprint bill went down

Right after the merger, we started getting a local Sprint store that we had never gone to, cold calling us to try to sell us some a new phone or plan. We told him not to call us again yet he kept doing it over and over until we had to block the number. We ended up leaving Sprint and now we have 2 lines for far less per month than we ever had with Sprint. Now it would take 2 or 3 months’ worth of bills to equal just a single month of billing from Sprint. Their merger saved us money, just not the way they were hoping it would.

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OldMugwump (profile) says:

Let's not jump to conclusions

Maybe the outage was related to the layoffs/merger, maybe not.

We don’t know yet. At least some people seem to think it was some kind of DoS attack.

If it was due to the layoffs or merger, by all means castigate T-Mobile for their incompetence. Let’s wait and see.

Let me remind everyone – all things being equal, layoffs after a merger are a good thing, if service quality doesn’t deteriorate.

Successfully delivering the same service with less people is an indication that efficiency has improved – this is progress.

Of course it sucks if you’re one of the people laid off, but the losses to those people are, in the long run, smaller than the gains to society. (Those who get laid off eventually get other jobs.)

(To be clear – I’m not defending the lack of competition in the US mobile market – that sucks.)

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