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.