Rick Boucher, former Democratic
chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, says he "strongly
supports" AT&T's $39 billion purchase of T Mobile and that the
benefits of broadband deployment "trump" any objections to the deal.
The deal was getting a once-over
in the House Judiciary Committee's competition subcommittee Thursday, which
prompted Boucher's comment to B&C/Multi.
"I think the foremost
challenge that we have in telecommunications today is making broadband
available universally throughout the nation," he told B&C/Multi.
"The president has set a target of 98% of the country having access to
broadband within five years. The AT&T T-Mobile merger standing alone will
virtually achieve the President's goal by expanding broadband to 97% of the U.S. population within that time frame."
AT&T has said that it needs T
Mobiles' spectrum and the additional 30 million sub base to justify deploying
next generation broadband to an additional 55 million people, including rural
areas--like many in Boucher's former district in southwestern Virginia.
"I think satisfying the
greatest single telecom challenge our nation faces outweighs all of the
arguments the opponents might make against this merger. So, I strongly support
it. I think it is fundamentally in the nation's interest."
Boucher, who was defeated in
November after 14 terms in Congress, is honorary chairman of the Internet
Innovation Alliance, whose members include AT&T. He is also partner in law
firm Sidley & Austin in charge of its "government strategies"