March 24, 2023

Cellphone Users Steaming at Hit-or-Miss Service

On Friday, four days after Hurricane Sandy, the major carriers — ATT, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA and Sprint — were still busily rebuilding their networks in the hardest-hit areas.

One-quarter of the cell towers in the storm zone were knocked out, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Many had no power, and their backup battery systems soon drained. The lines connecting those towers to the rest of the phone network were ripped out. Carriers deployed generators to provide power, but eventually those required more fuel — another limited resource.

In an emergency, a lack of cellphone reception can be dangerous, especially as more people have chosen to snip landlines out of their budgets. About 60 percent of American households have landlines, down from 78 percent four years ago, according to Chetan Sharma, an independent mobile analyst.

The carriers say they are trying their best to deal with an unusual disaster. But in the past, they have steadfastly objected to recommendations from regulators that they spend more money on robust emergency equipment, like longer-lasting backup batteries.

Neville Ray, chief technology officer of T-Mobile USA, said Hurricane Sandy was the biggest natural disaster he had ever dealt with and that service failures were inevitable.

“There’s an amount of preparation you can do, but depending on the size and scale and impact of the storm, it’s tough to anticipate every circumstance,” Mr. Ray said in an interview. “No degree of preparation can prevent some of those outages from happening.”

When networks fail, carriers deploy trucks, called C.O.W.’s, for cell on wheels, that act as temporary cell towers. But the companies say the challenge with deploying these trucks poststorm is connecting to power and to the wider phone network, which requires a microwave radio link to a working tower. Because of the density of the buildings in New York City, the trucks could serve only a small area, according to Mr. Ray.

The carriers have made other efforts to provide services while restoring their networks. ATT wheeled out R.V.’s where customers could charge their phones. And it made an agreement to share networks with T-Mobile USA in the affected areas of New York and New Jersey. When customers of both companies place calls, they are carried by whichever network is available in the area.

But ultimately all of the carriers’ preparations and responses were not enough to get services running again in a hurry. Over the week the carriers reported gradual progress, and they declined to offer timelines indicating when customers could expect to have service again.

The unreliability of wireless networks may point to a bigger problem. Over the years, the phone companies have fought off regulators who want to treat them as utilities, arguing that if they are going to stay innovative, they cannot be burdened with the old rules that phone companies dealt with in the landline era. But as a consequence, there are almost no rules about what carriers have to do in an emergency, said Harold Feld, senior vice president for Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that focuses on information policy.

“With the new networks we’ve prized keeping costs down, we’ve prized flexibility and we’ve prized innovation,” said Mr. Feld, who wrote a blog post on Monday anticipating cell tower problems. “But we have not put stability as a value when we have been pushing to have these networks built out.”

Mr. Feld noted that after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the F.C.C. recommended that carriers install backup batteries on their transmission towers that would last 24 hours, among other measures. But the carriers objected, presumably because they did not want to spend the money, he said. (Of course, 24 hours would not have been enough in many areas hit by the latest storm.)

In general, the carriers say it is in their own interest to fortify their networks for emergency situations, but Mr. Feld said this incentive was not enough.

“We ought to actually be doing this in the mind-set that there need to be actual rules, so that everybody knows how to behave when the crisis hits,” he said. “When I drive I have the best incentive in the world not to hit a telephone pole and not to slam into another car. But I still need speed limits, stop signs and stop lights.”

Debra Lewis, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, said no amount of rules could have prepared carriers for the outcome of a storm like Hurricane Sandy.

“The fact is, regulation cannot anticipate the varied challenges that can arise in such situations, but we do learn from them and adapt accordingly to ensure we meet consumers’ needs,” Ms. Lewis said. She said the company prepared for natural disasters with generators and batteries that provided at least eight hours of power to cell sites.

Verizon Wireless said Friday evening that less than 3 percent of its network in the Northeast was still down. “In severely impacted areas, such as Lower Manhattan, while wireless service has yet to return to normal levels, coverage is good,” it said.

ATT was the only major carrier that would not go into specifics about how much of its network was down. Anecdotally it seemed that in Manhattan at least, ATT’s coverage was not as good as Verizon’s after the storm. One Twitter user directed this message at ATT on Tuesday: “I live in lower manhattan. Vz has service u do not. You are ruining lives. I had to come midtown 2 call mom. Switching.”

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for ATT, said the company would not comment because it was working on restoring its network.

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Berlin’s Tech Scene Offers Hope to Economy

BERLIN — The courtyard of the nightclub Picknick was packed with partygoers dancing, shouting over the music and snapping photographs of one another, by all appearances just another night in this dilettante party capital. But appearances, on this recent Saturday night, were very much deceiving.

The images snapped with iPhones and Android smartphones were projected in a constantly changing slideshow on the side of the neighboring building by a new photo-sharing application called EyeEm. The plastic foam clouds dangling from the wires crisscrossing overhead were the logos for the popular audio-sharing service called SoundCloud, which has roughly seven million users.

Both companies, co-hosts of the event, are part of Berlin’s rapidly growing Internet start-up scene, which has won the attention of investors in Britain and California, including the high-profile actor-investor Ashton Kutcher, who is a backer of SoundCloud.

“I kind of get the feeling that the whole city of Berlin is a start-up,” said Alexander Ljung, chief executive and one of the founders of SoundCloud. “It’s fast-moving, chaotic. You don’t really know where it’s headed, but you know it’s headed in a good direction, and that’s a start-up feel.”

Mr. Ljung and his co-founder and chief technology officer, Eric Wahlforss, met in the computer labs at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. But the two Swedes decided to move to Berlin to start their company, which now employs nearly 70 people there.

Berliners will vote Sunday to elect the city-state’s next Parliament and, in the process, on the future of Klaus Wowereit, the city’s long-serving, popular mayor. Polls suggest he will win re-election, but his ambitions for federal office — he has even had his name bandied about in the media as a potential candidate for German chancellor, following in the footsteps of a former West Berlin mayor, Willy Brandt — will be affected by the future of the city he has governed since 2001.

With the vote nearing, a national debate over the fate of the reunified capital has broken out in the German news media, over the pub-crawl tourism that residents say is ruining the downtown, over fast-rising rents and even the burning of automobiles that have been rampant this year. The city’s heavy debt burden and reliance on money from richer states like Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg were the subject of a cover story in the weekly news magazine Focus.

It was Mr. Wowereit who coined the famous catchphrase of Berlin as “poor, but sexy,” that has stuck to the city, which has an unemployment rate of 13.3 percent, the highest of any state in Germany and well above the national average of 7 percent. He chose to aggressively market the city as a creative capital, emphasizing fashion, art and music, hoping that the magnetic effect of the city’s popularity with tourists would rub off on the economy.

Peter Englisch, a partner with Ernst Young in Germany responsible for midsize companies, said that Berlin had done a good job of marketing itself, but not as good a job nurturing the companies it attracted. “A lot of other cities have start-up support, welcome packages,” Mr. Englisch said. “It’s an inspiring environment, but the second step, turning potential into growth, is where I’m pretty sure Wowereit isn’t doing enough.”

Berlin has been a creative hub and a destination for young expatriates from other places for years. But its hipness never translated into badly needed jobs for a metropolis that could not recover an industrial prowess that was wrecked by war and division. Now the developing Internet start-up community is offering a tantalizing glimpse of a possible economic future for a city that for years appeared to have none.

“With Depression, war, fascism, the wall and the mass migration of talent out of Berlin, it’s quite clear that the city was set back by historical circumstances,” said Richard Florida, professor of business and creativity at the University of Toronto, whose research has drawn a link between bohemians and economic growth. “Looking at the experience of other cities that remade themselves, like Pittsburgh, shifting to an open technology-savvy creative economy takes at minimum a generation.”

One of the guests jostled by the crush of people at the party at Picknick was Florian Weber, a German who was one of the original engineers at Twitter and now one of the founders of a new site called Amen. “When I moved to Berlin four or five years ago it was a very different time. You rarely saw start-ups. Now, in the last one or two years you see people really doing innovative things,” Mr. Weber said.

It was perhaps inevitable that the start-up scene, concentrated around Rosenthaler Platz in the central Mitte district, would earn the moniker “Silicon Allee,” after the much-imitated Silicon Valley and the German word for avenue. The question is whether the city can live up to the hype.

“In the next two years we will have a multibillion-euro company here in Berlin,” said Christian Reber, 25, the chief executive and one of the founders of the company 6Wunderkinder. Mr. Reber, who, unlike many of the foreigners, hails from the nearby city of Brandenburg, is a vocal booster of the tech community and an equally harsh critic of the clones of American and other foreign Web sites that Germany had been known for until recently.

“I was at a conference and a guy said Germans are perfect executors, but too uncreative to create technology,” Mr. Reber said.

“I grew up learning we were the land of ‘Dichter und Denker,’ ” he said, using the German for poets and thinkers. “I hate copycats. I hate stealing ideas.”

In the brick-and-mortar world, the center of the scene is St. Oberholz, a cafe at the busy intersection of Rosenthaler Strasse and Torstrasse, home to the monthly mixer known as the Silicon Allee meet-up. The advantages that made it so popular with the tech people that it was one of SoundCloud’s unofficial first offices are not apparent at first sight: extra power outlets, unlimited free Internet and a welcoming attitude for people who want to set up shop and do their work there.

On an average afternoon the cafe could almost be mistaken for an Apple store, with all the Mac laptops open on the tables. Ansgar Oberholz, the cafe’s owner, said the development had come in spite of the city government, not because of it. “They don’t grasp it structurally and when they do, they do it wrong,” Mr. Oberholz said.

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Deploying New Tools to Stop the Hackers

Trying to secure a computer network is much like trying to secure a building — the challenge is trying to screen out real threats without impeding the normal traffic that needs to go in and out.

And as the recent hacking attacks against Citigroup, RSA Security and Lockheed Martin show, even sophisticated security systems can be breached.

“We’re seeing an inflection point where the attackers are extremely smart, and they are using completely new techniques,” said Nir Zuk, the chief technology officer at Palo Alto Networks, a firewall company based in Santa Clara, Calif. “Every piece of content that you receive can attack you.”

Historically, the first line of computer defense, the firewall, is like the guard desk at a building. It scrutinizes the traffic going in and out of the system, looking for obviously suspicious characters.

Virtually every company also has antivirus software, which typically keeps an eye out for anything on a “black list” of well-known malware and prevents it from entering the computer system or causing havoc once inside. A more rare type of security grants access only to programs on a “white list” of safe software— the equivalent of allowing employees with ID cards to come and go as they please but preventing anyone else from entering.

But as hackers unleash ever-sneakier attacks, big corporations and government agencies are scrambling to deploy new tools and procedures to deal with all the delicate gray areas in between — the cool-looking new smartphone app, the funny Facebook link, the unknown foreign Web site. The flood of malicious software is also prompting renewed debate over how to balance access and protection.

“Right now, if an application is not known, we let it run,” said Peter Firstbrook, an analyst at Gartner, a research firm, referring to the prevailing view in most companies. “That’s the wrong thing to do.”

Companies like Symantec, the giant Internet security firm, are introducing services that assess the “reputation” of software, weighing factors like how old it is and how widely it is used to decide if it is safe. Other vendors are selling enhanced firewalls and products that can sniff out impersonators by detecting unusual file-usage patterns.

Nearly everyone agrees that a mix of defenses is vital, and that even so, some hackers will still slip through. Experts also say that the proliferation of smartphones, the growing workplace use of Facebook and other social media tools, and the shift toward storing more data in a computing cloud are providing new avenues for attackers.

Symantec’s chief executive, Enrique Salem, acknowledged at a conference in February that traditional antivirus scans “long ago failed to keep up.” As points of entry into corporate and government networks “proliferate on this seemingly insane trajectory,” he added, “so do the threats they attract.”

The growth in malicious software has been staggering, as criminal organizations seek to ferret out credit card numbers and other ways to make money and hackers in China and Russia are believed to be seeking national security secrets.

Last year, Symantec discovered 286 million new and unique threats from malicious software, or about nine per second, up from 240 million in 2009. The company said that the amount of harmful software in the world passed the amount of beneficial software in 2007, and as many as one of every 10 downloads from the Web includes harmful programs.

Unlike past blitzes of spam with clunky sales pitches, today’s attacks often rely on a familiar face and are extremely difficult to stop. In a practice known as spear phishing, hackers send e-mails that seem to come from co-workers or friends and include attachments that can release malware to steal passwords and other sensitive data. In other cases, malware can be activated when a Web link is clicked.

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Nokia’s Chief Technology Officer Departs

PARIS — The struggling Finnish cellphone maker Nokia said Thursday that its chief technology officer had taken a leave of absence and would be temporarily replaced by head of the company’s research center.

News of the departure of Richard Green, an American who joined Nokia only last year from Sun Microsystems, came as Standard Poor’s cut Nokia’s long-term credit rating for the second time this year.

Nokia said Mr. Green had taken a leave “to attend to a personal matter.” Paivyt Tallqvist, head of media relations at the company in Espoo, Finland, said there was “no specific timeline” for his return.

Until his return, Mr. Green will be replaced by Henry Tirri, head of the Nokia Research Center, she said, adding the change will have “no impact on our product strategy or our product launches.”

Earlier, however, a Finnish newspaper reported that Mr. Green was unlikely to return because of disagreements over strategy. Without citing its sources, the Helsingin Sanomat reported that Mr. Green was unhappy with management decisions, including abandoning plans to introduce devices based on the MeeGo smartphone operating system that had been under development with the chipmaker Intel.

Nokia remains the No. 1 producer of cellphones globally, but its market share has been sliding. At the premium end, it has been losing ground to Apple’s iPhone, the BlackBerry smart phones from Research in Motion and devices using Google’s free Android software.

At the cheaper end, phones from companies like ZTE of China and Micromax of India have been winning ground, as have so-called no-brand manufacturers — small Chinese companies — which have been wining sales in India and China Africa, Latin America and Russia.

At the end of last month, Nokia said that mobile phone sales in the second quarter would be “substantially” below a previous forecast of €6.1 billion to €6.6 billion, blaming difficult conditions in China and Europe and lower than expected average selling prices and device volumes.

Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft executive who became Nokia’s chief executive in September, plans to win back lost ground by switching to Microsoft’s Windows Phone software from Nokia’s own Symbian platform. That switch is expected to take place at the end of this year or early next year.

The alliance with Microsoft was announced in February and has been seen by some analysts as a possible precursor to a more formal tie-up between the two.

The company’s shares price Thursday was down slightly at midday in Helsinki. For the year to date, the stock has plunged 44.2 percent.

On Thursday, Standard Poor’s cut Nokia’s rating by one notch to BBB+; three further downgrades would classify the company’s debt as junk. Another agency, Fitch Ratings downgraded the group this week to BBB-, just one a level above non-investment grade status.

As it tries to lift sales, Nokia also has been trying to trim costs. It said in April that it would eliminate 12 percent of its global work force, or 7,000 jobs, to help save €1 billion by the end of 2012. In a leaked memo this year, Mr. Elop had compared the company’s predicament, trying to catch up with Apple and Google, to that of a man standing on a burning oil rig at sea.

All this has made the company more vulnerable to a takeover — potential suitors mentioned recently include Samsung Electronics of Korea, Chinese groups and private equity firms.

“I think Nokia will play defensively until the Windows phone ramps up, and then it will push to find a slot in the business end of the market, stressing compatibility with personal computers,” said Ilkka Rauvola, an analyst at Danske Markets in Helsinki.

The appointment of Mr. Tirri is seen by some analysts as a return to basics, and a focus on chips, motherboards and transmission technology. He has been at the company since 2004 and is also a professor of computer engineering at the Helsinki University of Technology. His resumé highlights a host of publications on subjects including information modeling, neural networks and data mining.

Mr. Green reported directly to the chief executive. Previously he was executive vice president at Sun Microsystem’s software division, where he had broad responsibility for Sun’s software business, including services, sales, product and business strategy, and product development. Mr. Green could not be reached for comment.

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Stolen Data Is Tracked to Hacking at Lockheed

Lockheed’s finding confirmed the fears of security experts about the safety of the SecurID tokens and heightened concerns that other companies or government agencies could be vulnerable to hacking attacks.

The tokens, which are used to protect remote access to computer networks, are sold by the RSA Security Division of the EMC Corporation. RSA officials said Friday that they accepted Lockheed’s findings and were working with customers to offset the risks through other measures.

RSA disclosed in March that hackers had stolen data that could compromise a company’s SecurID system in a broader attack, and the breach of Lockheed, the nation’s largest defense contractor, is the first time that is known to have occurred.

A rash of prominent breaches has brought new attention to an increase in the frequency and sophistication of computer hacking. Google said this week that it believed an effort to steal hundreds of Gmail passwords for accounts of prominent people, including senior American government officials, had originated in China.

The Pentagon, which has long been concerned about efforts by China and Russia to obtain military secrets, announced separately that it would soon view serious computer attacks from foreign nations as acts of war that could result in a military response.

RSA officials noted that Lockheed said it planned to continue using the SecurID tokens, and they said they believed other customers would as well. But security experts said RSA’s reputation had most likely been seriously damaged, and many of its 25,000 customers, including Fortune 500 companies and government agencies around the world, could face difficult decisions about what to do next.

RSA’s prospects for holding on to some of those customers “certainly seems bleak,” said Harry Sverdlove, the chief technology officer at Bit9, a firm that provides other types of security products and does not compete with RSA.

He and other experts said RSA might need to reprogram many of its security tokens or create an upgraded version to rebuild confidence in its systems.

In response to questions on Friday, Lockheed said in an e-mail that its computer experts had concluded that the breach at RSA in March was “a direct contributing factor” in the attack on its network. Government and industry officials said the hackers had used some of the RSA data and other techniques to piece together the coded password of a Lockheed contractor who had access to Lockheed’s system.

Lockheed, which makes fighter planes, spy satellites and other confidential equipment, said it had detected the attack quickly and blocked it before any important data was compromised.

Lockheed said it was replacing 45,000 SecurID tokens held by workers who need to log into its system from customer offices, hotels or their homes. It also required its employees to change their passwords, and it added a step to its sign-on process.

One top RSA official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity on Friday because of customer relationships, acknowledged that some customers would lose confidence in the devices. “It’s certainly going to have an initial impact,” he said.

He said the company would discuss reprogramming tokens with companies. But, he said, in some cases that may require more work than other measures they could take to beef up different parts of their security systems.

RSA, based in Bedford, Mass., has declined to specify what data was stolen in March. It has also said that it detected the attack as the hackers were removing the data and that the attack was only partly successful.

But independent security experts have speculated that the hackers obtained at least part of the databases holding serial numbers and other critical data for the tens of millions of tokens, and Lockheed’s confirmation that the stolen data played a role in its attack supported that theory.

The RSA tokens provide security beyond a user name or password by requiring users to enter a unique number generated by the token each time they connect to their networks.

But to make use of the data stolen from RSA, security experts said, the hackers would also have needed the passwords of one or more users on Lockheed’s network. RSA has said that in its own breach, the hackers accomplished this by sending “phishing” e-mails to small groups of employees, including one worker who opened an attached spreadsheet that contained a previously unknown bug.

This let the hacker monitor the worker’s passwords. Security specialists suspect that something similar happened in the Lockheed attack, with the hackers using the data stolen from RSA to predict the security codes that the token would generate.

Mr. Sverdlove said that in mounting attacks, many hackers now studied Facebook and other social media for information to personalize their phishing e-mails and increase the odds they will be opened. He said that over the last two years, there had been “an exponential increase” in these attacks.

Security experts said that the alternatives to the tokens, including computerized smart cards and biometric tools, tended to be more expensive. They said Northrop, another giant military contractor, was shifting from SecurID tokens to smart cards.

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As Regulators Weigh AT&T Bid, a Look at Wireless Markets Abroad

While cellphone customers in the United States tend to pay more every month than consumers in other developed countries, they get more for their money in terms of voice and data use.

For example, Americans pay an average of 4 cents for a minute of talk time, while Canadians and the British pay more than twice that, according to recent data from Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. In Japan, where the top three wireless carriers control 97 percent of the market, locals pay 22 cents a minute.

“Pricing is what sets the U.S. apart from the rest of the world,” said Sam Paltridge, an analyst at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “Americans spend less than average on communications.”

The question for regulators in Washington is how ATT’s $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile might change that. Analysts and industry experts worry that the deal could hurt consumers, in particular by eliminating T-Mobile’s low-cost phone plans. Some are urging regulators to block the acquisition, which would leave two major companies, ATT and Verizon, with nearly 80 percent of the wireless market, followed by the much smaller Sprint. ATT has said the merger will benefit consumers, in part by improving network quality and reach.

As they consider the deal, regulators may look abroad to see how competition affects wireless markets. With only three major network operators, the market in the United States would function similarly to some European markets, like France, which also has three operators, said J. Scott Marcus, the former chief technology officer at the telecommunications company GTE and former Internet policy adviser at the Federal Communications Commission.

“It will definitely become an oligopoly market,” Mr. Marcus said. “That will be less good than what one had before, but not awful.”

Of course, using other countries as a guide to how consolidation may play out is tricky, because every market is shaped by local cultural and business factors.

In Japan, for example, the average amount that consumers spend on data is the highest in the developed world — but not because of a lack of competition in the mobile industry. Japanese cellphone owners like to do a lot of browsing on their cellphones, and they are prepared to pay for that, said Steven Hartley, an analyst at Ovum, a research firm in London. Mr. Hartley said over 40 percent of mobile operators’ revenue in Japan comes from data services, compared with 25 percent in the United States.

Americans tend to talk nearly twice as much as people in most other developed countries, which led to the popularity of bigger buckets of voice minutes. And plans that offer nationwide calling with no roaming fees have also kept prices low. In Europe, which in theory is one market but is actually divided into many smaller national markets, roaming charges are a frequent and bothersome reality.

Europeans and Asians were quicker than Americans to embrace so-called prepaid phone service, in which customers do not have a contract and pay for chunks of voice minutes and data capacity as they go. This means phone owners are generally not tied to a single wireless company and have more flexibility to switch among services. Some even carry around multiple SIM cards, the fingernail-size chips that activate a cellphone for use, and decide which one to install based on which offers the cheapest rate for the country they are calling or visiting. For example, someone living in Spain who often visits family in France might purchase SIM cards for wireless services in both countries.

And phone customers outside the United States tend to have more handset choices, since cellphones are less likely to be “locked” for use with one particular carrier. But they have fewer opportunities to upgrade cheaply, because carriers are less likely to offer a free or discounted phone to those who commit to a one- or two-year contract.

Some of that is beginning to change, said Chris Jones, an analyst at Canalys. “Smartphones are beginning to get more popular in the U.K., so more people are buying smartphones and the contracts that come with them,” he said. Even so, those contracts can cost around £30 or £35 a month, or $48 to $56, and they do not include data, he said.

In general, the breadth of options in Europe has not yet led to significantly cheaper service, said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics in Dedham, Mass. “It only drives down prices if competitors are willing to compete on price,” he said. “The market is more or less equally divided up, so there isn’t the same hypercompetitiveness that we have in the U.S.”

Heike Troue, the director of a public policy institute in Berlin, said that she was satisfied with the range of mobile choices available there. An iPhone 4 owner, she pays T-Mobile 90 euros a month, or $127, for her all-inclusive contract, which provides 1,000 calling minutes, three gigabytes of data transfers and 1,500 text messages. Since she signed up for the plan last November, she has never hit those limits. “One can only talk so much,” Ms. Troue said.

At times, high costs abroad have prompted lawmakers and regulators to step in. European and British telecom companies are bowing to such pressure by lowering or planning to lower termination fees — the fees that the caller’s carrier must pay to the recipient’s carrier. The goal is to give carriers more flexibility to compete by selling more generous packages with larger chunks of talk time, text allotments and cheaper data services.

European regulators have also ordered that limits be placed on roaming charges for calling and texting, and are working on a similar limit on data roaming charges.

In South Korea, the government has put pressure on the three major carriers — SK Telecom, KT and LG Telecom — to cut rates on text messages and calls, and it also limits the amount of subsidies the companies can offer on new phones.

Regulators in the United States could require ATT to make some concessions for the T-Mobile deal to be approved, like giving up wireless spectrum in some cities. The review by the Justice Department and the F.C.C. could take several months, and analysts say it could be a year before the full effect of the deal is clear. Some analysts say that the combined company might actually lower prices to better compete with Verizon. But others warn of side effects.

Mr. Paltridge of the O.E.C.D said that the overall consequence of combining ATT and T-Mobile might be broader than most consumers think. For example, it would leave only one American carrier using GSM, the world’s most common cellular standard. That means ATT could raise rates for Americans using their phones overseas and for foreigners visiting the United States.

“If the two merged, there would be an international angle to the competition issue,” he said.

Bettina Wassener and Sei Chong contributed reporting.

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