Why You Should Care About the AT&T Merger with T-Mobile

Wayne Rash
The war of words surrounding the proposed merger of AT&T with T-Mobile is heating up as the various filing deadlines draw nearer. Approximately 30,000 people and organizations have filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opposing the merger. About 10 percent of that number have filed comments in support of the merger. Some of those comments are from people who believe AT&T's claims that they'll get better service, and it's their right to file those comments.

But some of those comments are the result of bribes to officials at non-profits, political pressure, lies and deception. As I found when I investigated my story about this in eWEEK, very little about AT&T's position is what it seems. The repercussions of AT&T's conduct are already being felt - one group has fired its executive director for accepting a bribe from AT&T in return for signing a letter of support written by AT&T, that the official now says he didn't even understand.

But it's the company's conduct in other areas that is perhaps the most egregious. There's a non-profit public interest group called the Internet Innovation Alliance that presents itself as an advocate for things like rural broadband. Public interest groups in rural areas such as local and state Granges, farmers unions, farm bureaus and rural health care organizations have been told by AT&T that they'll get high-speed Internet if the merger goes through. When they speak of the desperate need by people in these areas for Internet access, you realize that the digital divide cuts many ways. These people are effectively disenfranchised because of the non-availability of broadband in their areas.

But the person who claims to be coming to their rescue, former Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher, in reality serves two masters. When he's acting as Honorary Chair of the IIA, he never mentions his other master - AT&T. Boucher, it seems, is one of AT&T's top lobbyists and a member of the law firm that has represented the company for over 100 years. AT&T is also a major contributor to the IIA.

So how does this affect you? On one hand, you have to ask yourself if your company is ready to stand behind a wireless carrier that would allegedly corrupt the system to its own ends. On the other, you have to ask whether this would ultimately hurt your company. It's no secret that any time competition is reduced, prices go up and services go down. The only winner is AT&T and its stockholders. Are you ready for higher prices, more restrictions and fewer choices? While the comment period for the FCC is about over, Congress is planning hearings on this topic.

Perhaps it's time that your company thinks about what sort of competitive environment it would like to do business in. If the picture doesn't look pretty, I'm sure your representatives in Congress would like to hear your thoughts.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 22, 2011 9:06 PM Soupy Soupy  says:
I have T-Mobile right now and love what I get from them. But if this merger goes through, the minute I get an opportunity to change carriers, I will. I've had AT&T before and it is not a good wireless company. I would rather have Cricket over AT&T. Let's just hope someone pulls their head out of their 5th point of contact and nixes this buy-out. Reply
Jun 23, 2011 3:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
It's ridiculous to think that in this day in age mergers like these get approved. Clearly, it's in violation of Anti-trust laws and will ultimately negatively impact already STRUGGLING middle class. Individual privately owned stores will close and will be replaced with big business, hungry for more money. Middle class consumers and small business owners, please write your local congress representative and help support our democracy. Just say no to this merger, all around bad for everyone except the already well off big businessman from upperclass. Reply
Jul 27, 2011 12:07 AM Nurse Nurse  says:
I have T-mobile and have had problems with service since being in another state and town. I have had dropped calls, my e-mail turned around to where it assumes I am leaving a message to my voicemail, and not being able to send or receive calls for the most part since I have been here. I don't know how that will affect my future service, because for now I have sucky service anyway that nothing is being done about. I have called numerous times to be told by the tech servers that they are working on it. So in the meantime, I have been paying for flex-pay to use the phone when I can, as I am not paying for something, (and I told them this) that I most times can't even use!!Until they give me the service I need and have to have to be able to say I have that, I won't be using anythign except the liitle bit of service I am getting in Sherman, Texas!!!...... Reply
Sep 2, 2011 11:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
Bribery of those poor folks in rural areas is a comlpete atrocity. They have been given no other options for wireless service and trully believe that AT&T will service them well. I am completely against this merger with T-Mobile. As Americans we have the right to choose from various providers within a fair and competetive market. This merger is deffinitely not in the best interest of the American consumer. Reply
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