Originally published: June 13, 2011
Last updated: June 13, 2011 - 10:20pm
[Commentary] Sprint, and a number of the other groups opposing AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile, do not buy AT&T's argument that the merger must happen if broadband is going to be deployed to rural areas and underserved communities. If reaching these areas is something AT&T wants to do, it should take the $39 billion it will use to ingest T-Mobile and build out its system. The only reason rural areas might not have good service is because AT&T has decided not to go there. Buying the smaller T-Mobile is not going to result in flawless blanket coverage in Montana's Flathead Valley.
I buy Sprint's objections. This merger would hurt consumers and technological advances. An aspect of this merger I find worrisome deals with net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission passed some very weak network neutrality rules late last year. One of the reasons the rules were so soft is that it did not apply to wireless broadband. If AT&T and T-Mobile join to create the largest wireless network in the country, it does not bode well for a free-flowing Internet. Consumers can expect AT&T, a tireless opponent of net neutrality, to use its lack of competition to muck up the Internet with tiered pricing and the throttling of content. The choice is simple for the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice: Stop this merger now. If it is allowed to happen it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recreate a competitive wireless market.
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