Rural stakeholders line up on opposite sides of proposed AT&T/ T-Mobile pairing

Rural stakeholders are lining up on opposite sides of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger. On Friday, agricultural organization National Grange sent a letter to the FCC in support of the proposed pairing.

“AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile makes additional investment in wireless broadband for rural areas a certainty,” wrote National Lagrange President Ed Luttrell in the letter. “AT&T has committed to a more robust national build-out as part of this deal, which is why, on behalf of our members, we support its approval.”

But the Rural Cellular Association has a different take. In testimony last week before a House Committee, RCA President & CEO Steven K. Berry argued that AT&T should be able to accomplish its network build-out without the merger. “AT&T already has the ability to build out its network using the spectrum it already owns,” said Berry.

Berry also argued that the proposed merger could lead to higher prices. “If the proposed merger is approved, the takeover would consolidate the industry to the extreme, resulting in AT&T and Verizon controlling 80% of the market,” said Berry. “Competitive carriers will find it increasingly difficult to survive, and consumers, at the mercy of duopoly, will face price increases and reduced innovation.  Wireless competition is on life support, and this transaction will effectively pull the plug.”

Perhaps some rural readers would care to weigh in on this one.

3 Responses to “Rural stakeholders line up on opposite sides of proposed AT&T/ T-Mobile pairing”

  1. Big G says:

    Ruaral is right and wrong at the same time. The ATT merger will not cause any more price pressure than there already is. The whole country in its executive mind set is a monopoly in practice because of philosophical beliefs so no matter how many wireless caries exist, no matter how many banks or however many automotive companies its all the same. Every single western CEO preaches the same thing. “This is not a race to the bottom on price” Every single one is preaching quality and service. Telecom is no different so it does not matter what ATT does with mergers. It matters who leads it and what the interests and philosophy that leader teaches. Now if someone came in with a nationalistic and philanthropic 1950 mentality that would be a game changer and would make everyone look and listen and pea their pants because they would devour their neighbors from the pent up stress this new economy has put on everyone.

  2. Uh… you guys need to learn how the world of telecom lobbying really works. National Grange receives substantial financial support from AT&T, which is why they reliably pen letters for the company’s public policy agenda whenever an issue comes before the FCC. They are also part of the nation’s biggest broadband Astroturf group — Broadband for America, an industry invention.

    In fact, as we’ve reported, virtually every last group writing letters to the FCC in support of the merger have financial ties to AT&T, a board member from AT&T, or a publication that accepts paid ads from AT&T. It’s dollar-a-holler-advocacy. That’s why groups that have absolutely no day-to-day interest in telecom issues are eager comment filers at the FCC when AT&T is involved.

    Have fun yourself and visit the FCC comment filing system. Look for letters from organizations and charities, see their gushing support for the merger and then visit their websites and look to see who they enshrine as their biggest financial supporters. AT&T is always somewhere to be found.

    http://stopthecap.com/2011/06/01/charity-and-civic-groups-continue-dollar-a-holler-cheerleading-of-att-t-mobile-merger/

  3. Skeptic in FL says:

    National Grange is exceptionally naive if they are accepting that “AT&T has committed” or that “AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile makes investment in wireless broadband in rural America a certainty” Really? There has been nothing to stop AT&T from building broadband in rural America. They have the most and best spectrum to do so, but have not. T-Mobile’s 1900 MHz and AWS spectrum isn’t suitable for AT&T’s broadband deployment and gives them nothing more than they have today. These false promises are tactics to take advantage of the political climate and trusting consumers. This is window dressing to divert the attention away from the facts. AT&T simply wants to remove their only GSM competitor and control the market. National Grange, you may be a rural agricultural organization but you owe your members and rural America a more thoughtful response. Suggesting that consumers should trust a monopolistic, market-controlling AT&T propagates false hope that as a GSM monopoloy AT&T will suddenly become a benevolent protector of rural communities. Please! You should support your local rural wireless and broadband operators who actually demonstrate that they are committed to the rural communities they service. If this acquisition is allowed which it definitely should not be, it will kill independent rural operators. Your position is naive and irresponsible!

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