RTG is surprised by the lack of effort AT&T put forth in its Opposition to defend its service record in rural America. The acquisition of T-Mobile will not give AT&T more reach into rural America and even if AT&T serves 97% of the population with LTE as it claims it will do if it is allowed to acquire T-Mobile, it ignores the fact that the 3% of the population that lives and works in rural America will still be without LTE service from AT&T. A review of AT&T’s Opposition leaves RTG even more convinced that this deal cannot be justified in any manner from a public interest standpoint. While AT&T spends the bulk of its Opposition arguing that it needs more spectrum and T-Mobile’s network to transition to LTE, it makes absolutely no commitment to serve rural Americans or hard to serve, high cost areas.
AT&T’s position with respect to the public interest aspects of this deal can be summarized as follows: Elimination of a strong competitor like T-Mobile will improve AT&T’s bottom line which will therefore somehow be good for consumers. While this may prove true for a small class of consumers (those who happen to hold AT&T stock), it does not for the vast majority of wireless consumers. It should be obvious to any regulator that the facts on the record utterly fail to justify AT&T’s claim that consolidation of the two of the four largest wireless carriers will somehow serve the public interest.
If AT&T continues to press for this deal to go through, much more evidence needs to be put in the record, disputed facts need to be addressed and the claimed public interest benefits need to be weighed against the likely public interests harms that will ensue if the merger is approved. There are no conditions that can be placed on this deal to make it palatable, especially given AT&T’s history of failing to live up to conditions placed on it in the past. RTG calls on the FCC to deny the applications for failing to meet the public interest standard.
Carri Bennet, General Counsel to RTG
regarding the Joint Opposition of AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and T-Mobile to Petitions to Deny and Reply to Comments
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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