Seventy six House Democrats have
written FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder to
urge them to consider the benefits of an AT&T-T Mobile merger in their
respective agencies' reviews of the proposed $39 billion meld.
While the letter does not
explicitly endorse the merger, it does celebrate AT&T's pledge that the
deal will allow the combined companies to deliver next-generation wireless
broadband to over 97% of the country.
Led by Reps. G.K Butterfield of North Carolina and Gene Green of Texas, the Dems extolled the potential benefits of that rollout.
Those include driving investment and innovation, creating jobs, and reaching
the rural constituents that the FCC has just said need more help getting
They make it clear that the FCC
review should include "all relevant issues," including price and
competition. But they also point out, as has AT&T at every opportunity,
that the President has made ubiquitous wireless broadband a national priority.
"The AT&T merger proposal
pledges to help realize that vision and, for this reason, we urge you to give
important consideration to these and other prospective benefits during your
comprehensive reviews," they wrote.
Public Knowledge, a critic of the
deal, tried to downplay its significance.
"The letter that Democratic
members of Congress does not endorse the AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile,"
said Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn. "The letter said the proper
authorities should study AT&T's buyout of T-Mobile in a 'thorough and
expeditious manner' and that 'relevant issues including consumer prices,
competition, and innovation' be considered. The letter also supported the need
for high-speed broadband deployment for more high-tech jobs. We agree on all
counts. However, we wish the members of Congress had studied AT&T's
proposal, backed by the Communications Workers of America, more closely. Had
they done so, they would have found that AT&T's deployment plan is only
marginally better than what they have proposed before and that under this
merger, jobs will be lost, not gained."
Among the other signatories to the
letter were Gerald Connolly of Virginia, Jesse Jackson Jr., of Illinois, and Heath Schuler of Tennessee.