Three former mayors of major metropolitan cities are encouraging the Federal Communications Commission to approve AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA.
“Technology and mobile broadband are essential to the development, sustainability, and the future of our economy,” said Ronald Dellums of Oakland, California, Shirley Franklin of Atlanta, Georgia, and Douglas Palmer of Trenton, New Jersey. “This merger takes us one step closer to ensuring that African Americans have greater access to the transformative power that wireless technology offers and the opportunities that come with being connected in an ever-growing digital society.” Palmer is also former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The former mayors offered their endorsement of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger in a June 20 letter to Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC. Their letter is one of a number of AT&T/T-Mobile endorsements Genachowski and fellow FCC members have received in recent weeks.
What has gotten the attention of the former mayors and many others is a proposed merger that would create the largest wireless provider in the nation, with more than 130 million subscribers. The combined company would leap ahead of Verizon Wireless, the current wireless leader.
The deal itself is big as well. AT&T has offered to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in cash and stocks from Deutsche Telekom. Those terms would make the German telecommunications company a minority stakeholder, with 8 percent of AT&T stock.
Because of its size and its competition issues, the merger cannot proceed without review and approval by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice. That process is expected to take a year or longer.
In their letter to the FCC chairman, the former mayors did not address market competition but focused instead on the benefits of expansion and improvement of wireless service.
“This merger offers the possibility of expanded access to mobile broadband technology through the joined resources, technological know-how and industry experience of these two companies,” wrote Dellums, Franklin and Palmer. “With this expanded coverage across the nation – with the capacity to reach over 300 million Americans and 1 million more square miles – more Americans and more minority communities will have the opportunity to experience what mobile broadband can bring to their lives.”
The former mayors stressed the importance of broadband Internet access and how AT&T’s promise of an $8 billion investment in its wireless network could extend that access to virtually every American.
“We believe the AT&T — T-Mobile merger will provide a fast and efficient way for mobile broadband to expand and meet the needs of our nation’s Internet usage,” they said in their letter. “Mobile 4G LTE is the future of Internet access, and AT&T’s comprehensive plan for investment and expansion brings this technology to a wider audience.”
Dellums, Franklin and Palmer also noted that AT&T has an acknowledged record of industry leadership in diversity with hiring and contracting. “AT&T routinely makes an effort to provide minority entrepreneurs the opportunity to succeed through start-up business training programs and contracting opportunities,” they told Genachowski.