76 democrats signed a letter endorsing the AT&T and T-Mobile merger (link to the list with this year and career contributions from AT&T). Only 5 of those democrats had not received funding from AT&T. Just what we need less competition from wireless companies. During the 5.8 earthquake this week on the east coast almost all cellphone service was unavailable, we need expanded wireless coverage, not consolidated wireless coverage.
In June, Congressman G.K. Butterfield of South Carolina worked with Congressman Gene Green of Texas to organize Democratic support for AT&T's merger with T-Mobile. The resulting letter to the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice — the two federal agencies responsible for approving or rejecting the acquisition — argues that the merger would benefit the public for two reasons: 1) it would enable AT&T to expand high-speed wireless Internet to low-income and rural customers, and 2) the required build-out would result in new jobs.4Thanks to a letter filed by AT&T's attorneys that contained confidential information, we now know with certainty that AT&T could easily upgrade its wireless networks without buying T-Mobile — it has simply chosen not to do so.The letter pegs the price of covering 97% of Americans with advanced 4G LTE wireless service at $3.8 billion, less than one tenth the cost of the $39 billion merger.5
And as we've stated before, the merger is likely to be bad for consumers. The merger wouldn't just allow AT&T to raise prices on its customers — every wireless carrier would be subject to fewer competitive pressures to keep prices low.6 If that happens, more poor people, Black Americans, and Latinos — who disproportionately rely on wireless broadband to access the Internet — would be subject to higher prices and undue economic hardship just to get online. There are also major implications for Internet freedom. Without competition from other wireless carriers or effective regulation by the FCC, AT&T and Verizon — net neutrality opponents who would together control nearly 80% of the wireless market — would have an unacceptable level of control over what we can and can't access on the mobile web.7Sign the letter to the 76 democratic senators to rescind their endorsement of this merger