The issue at hand for antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice, when evaluating the consumer impact of an AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile USA, is whether the deal would exceed a rule of thumb about market concentration. Some would argue that, no matter what happens with this particular deal, that concentration in the mobile business will continue. See DoJ guideline or more on the algorithm.

“The gap between the haves – AT&T and Verizon – and the have-nots, which is essentially everybody else, is only getting wider,” said Kevin Smithen, an analyst for Macquarie Securities.

Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, agreed, saying: “This market is going to consolidate one way or another.”

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