Washington, D.C. – Today, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) filed its reply responding to AT&T’s opposition to RTG’s petition to deny the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. Since it first announced to the world on March 20, 2011 that it intended to purchase T-Mobile, AT&T has gone to unprecedented lengths to convince regulators and consumers that the proposed transaction is in the public interest. AT&T has spent millions of dollars on lawyers, lobbyists and a savvy marketing campaign, all in an effort to peddle the myth that somehow, some way, this deal will benefit rural American consumers. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The immediate elimination of T-Mobile from the mobile wireless marketplace will not only remove a fierce, nationwide 4G competitor with tens of millions of customers from the marketplace, but it will create a duopoly where AT&T and Verizon Wireless would control nearly 80% of all American customers. Compounding matters, AT&T will stand to control nearly 100% of the GSM roaming, wholesale and machine-to-machine marketplace. Additionally, the removal of T-Mobile allows AT&T to add even more spectrum to its already vast portfolio while simultaneously preventing new market entrants and existing carriers from accessing this precious resource. AT&T’s claimed benefit of reaching 97% of Americans with LTE is dangled as a carrot to garner support, yet AT&T has failed to demonstrate how reaching its 97% target will improve mobile broadband coverage in rural America.
RTG has presented evidence to the FCC showing that the claims of AT&T were unfounded, and that the proposed deal, if consummated, would lead to numerous public interest harms. When confronted with a mountain of compelling reasons demonstrating why the proposed transaction is not in the public interest, AT&T stubbornly pressed forward ignoring the evidence and truth of how damaging this transaction will be for the wireless landscape. A consolidation of this scale will harm customers of both AT&T and T-Mobile by diminishing the quality of customer care and limiting the available number of retail pricing plans available to the full customer base. AT&T’s resulting market domination will allow it to continue to engage in anticompetitive practices, stifle innovation and investment in the mobile sector, and it will lead to extensive job loss at a time of oppressively high national unemployment. RTG continues to reiterate that no conditions could make this merger acceptable or harmonious with the public interest, and therefore, it should not be approved.
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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