Verizon-Alltel: Bad for Customers?

Now that Verizon Wireless has announced it is acquiring Alltel to become the largest cell phone carrier nationwide, with a total subscriber count somewhere north of 80 million, CNET News is asking whether or not this is good for customers in the long run. The report said that the biggest fear for consumer advocates when companies merge is that consolidation means fewer choices for consumers, and fewer choices often leads to higher prices.

“If the deal goes through, two companies, Verizon and AT&T, will control about 150 million of the 260 million wireless customers in the U.S.,” Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, said in the report. “With Sprint in a weakened condition, this deal will speed the unfortunate trend of giving consumers fewer, rather than more choices in telecommunications services, while giving a few companies more control over the lives of consumers.”

It certainly looks that way to us, given Verizon’s history of blowing away cell phone software, replacing it with its own monetized services, and disabling hardware features that they haven’t gotten around to writing their own software for.