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AT&T calls T-Mobile's first responder and education pledges 'marketing stunts'

"We have a deep and genuine commitment to connecting first responders and using technology to enrich education, not marketing stunts contingent on getting something approved."

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AT&T responds to T-Mobile's Un-carrier event Thursday.

Angela Lang/CNET

T-Mobile took some shots at AT&T and Verizon on Thursday during its "new T-Mobile Un-carrier" event and now AT&T is firing back. In a statement provided to CNET, an AT&T spokesperson called out T-Mobile's newest pledges for first responders and education as a "marketing stunt."

"We have a deep and genuine commitment to connecting first responders and using technology to enrich education, not marketing stunts contingent on getting something approved," the AT&T spokesperson said. "If they believe it's critical to offer free access to these communities they would do it today, no conditions or questions asked."

On Thursday, T-Mobile announced a host of new initiatives -- including free service for 10 years for first responders, a new $15-per-month 5G plan and free home internet for 10 million households for five years -- in a bid to try and get its pending $26.5 billion merger with Sprint across the finish line.

While approved by the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice, 16 state attorneys general led by New York and California are suing to block the deal over concerns that it is anticompetitive and will lead to higher prices for consumers.

In its announcement, T-Mobile made it clear that it needs the Sprint deal to offer the programs it announced.

"Everything we announced today is dependent on the massive capacity expansion that comes from the new T-Mobile," Mike Sievert, T-Mobile's chief operating officer, said in a call with reporters.

AT&T, which has a special service for first responders called FirstNet that gives emergency personnel priority access to its 4G LTE network when they need it, also took exception to T-Mobile's approach there.

"The communications needs of first responders are not a bargaining chip -- they are a critical lifesaving tool," the spokesperson said. "FirstNet was born to provide the reliability, capability and accountability that the public safety community requires to carry out its life-saving missions. To think that they can turn serving first responders into a marketing ploy, T-Mobile reveals how little they know about what public safety fought for.

"That's why FirstNet is more than a service plan," the spokesperson continued. "It's a robust, dedicated platform built specifically to serve and advance the first responder community over the next 20 or more years."

T-Mobile declined to comment.

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