Is your phone/Internet company merging?
Should you be concerned if your phone or Internet provider is merging or being acquired? In the last month several proposed mergers have been announced that affect a lot of our customers:
AT&T is attempting to buy Time Warner
Windstream is attempting to buy Earthlink
Crown Castle is purchasing FP&L FiberNet
Mergers are a fact of life with large companies, but in the last 20 years we have seen a large number of them in the telecommunications industry. Mergers happen for a lot reasons: create opportunities, reduce costs, increase profits, etc. In some cases, mergers are opportunistic as large competitors absorb smaller companies that are having cash flow or debt issues. Most of us have been through this with a telecom or Internet provider. Normally, this should not be a cause for concern, but it always something we should review if it happens to our current provider, or one we are looking at switching to.
Mergers/acquisitions can be a good thing – sometimes service gets better, costs decrease, and you end up with a more financially stable provider. And sometimes it can be a nightmare.
If your current provider is going through an acquisition (either acquiring or being acquired), look into the underlying reasons and ask questions about how this will affect your service. Mergers that are meant to reduce costs and increase profits usually result in staff layoffs that affect the level of service you receive and can result in higher costs (less competition). You should also look at the track record of the acquiring company – have they done this a lot in the past? Were the acquisitions successful? What happened to service and pricing?
ComRes has consulted with many of our Telecom/Internet customers over the years that suffered from poor service/increased costs that resulted from a merger or acquisition. Sometimes the problems can be fixed easily by converting to different service offerings or simply understanding how the Telecom/Internet provider works. But in some cases, you may have no choice but to switch providers to get the service you want at a price you are willing to pay.