It seems to me that whenever an industry is reduced to a handful of players – Employer-provided Healthcare, CableTV, Local phone service and Petrol are good examples – that competition goes out of the window, prices go through the roof, and quality heads for the floor.
Cingular and AT&T use different cellphone technology. When Cingular acquired AT&T’s cellphone business, this put them in something of a quandary – they were forced to maintain technology that they did not really like. The honest thing to do here would be to admin that they were phasing out AT&T’s TDMA technology and allow them the option to switch out of their contracts without charge. Instead they chose to treat their new customers as captives.