Consolidation Reduces Consumer Choice; Deters Large Carriers From Deploying Rural 4G
AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile will destroy jobs, frustrate innovation, and thwart deployment in rural America for years to come.
President Obama recently signed an Executive Order establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council. And last week, the Council announced an ambitious goal of achieving “wireless broadband access for 98% of all Americans.”
The Rural Telecommunications Group (RTG), an association of small businesses and wireless entrepreneurs located throughout rural America, welcomes both the establishment of the White House Rural Council and the newly announced goal of ensuring that 98% of the U.S. population has access to wireless broadband services.
RTG member companies strongly believe that market-based competition for rural broadband access – especially mobile broadband access – can create jobs, encourage education, strengthen small businesses, improve medicine and promote economic growth.
But the White House Rural Council must not be lulled by false promises. AT&T has had decades to bring advanced wireless services to rural Americans, but has failed to do so. AT&T also has a long history of treating rural America as an afterthought at best. AT&T’s anticompetitive roaming prices and policies have already forced numerous small and rural mobile wireless carriers out of business. And with T-Mobile gone and AT&T in control of nationwide roaming for the GSM-based carriers, even more small and rural mobile wireless carriers will go under – destroying jobs and economic vitality in the heart of rural America. Worse still, AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as a maverick competitor will lead to higher prices, less innovation, and curtailed broadband deployment for both rural and urban consumers throughout the country.
The fastest way to create telecommunications jobs and broadband coverage in rural America is robust competition, not a monopoly. Rural wireless competitors can meet the challenge of expanding employment, enhancing investment and expanding wireless broadband coverage. But only if AT&T is not allowed to snuff out competition first.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who each serve less than 100,000 subscribers. RTG’s members have joined together to speed delivery of new, efficient and innovative telecommunications technologies to remote and underserved communities. ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless
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