House Democrats rally for AT&T, T-Mobile with letter to Obama

Some members of Congress are banding together to ask President Obama to settle the AT&T and T-Mobile merger lawsuit once and for all.

Rachel King Staff Writer
Rachel King is a staff writer for ZDNet based in San Francisco.
Rachel King
4 min read

As if the White House doesn't have enough things to deal with at the moment, a collective of 15 House Democrats are now putting pressure on the president to deal with the AT&T and T-Mobile merger.

Led by U.S. Representative Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), the group is asking President Obama to direct the Justice Department to settle the government's lawsuit that would block the proposed acquisition, which is supposed to be decided upon quite soon.

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit last month against the $39 billion deal citing potential violations of U.S. antitrust laws.

The group of congresspeople side with AT&T's claim that the merger will create jobs at a time the country needs them desperately. Shuler explained in a separate statement:

The road to economic recovery is long, but there is an opportunity before us to immediately create jobs and spur infrastructure investments and technological innovations that will create jobs for years to come. By settling the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA we can put thousands of Americans back to work and promote economic development across the country. I urge the [resident to strongly consider the vast benefits this merger will have on job creation and the economy and quickly resolve any concerns the Administration may have with the proposal.

Naturally, this makes Sprint--the loudest voice in the cry against the merger or takeover as the term now depends upon which side you're on--quite angry.

John Taylor, manager of public affairs for Sprint, added in a statement:

Make no mistake, AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile will eliminate tens of thousand of jobs across the country. The flawed economic study embraced by AT&T and its union ignores what Wall Street investors and the Federal Government have been already been promised: that the overall investment for the combined companies will be substantially reduced if the proposed transaction closes.

At the moment, this matter is before the Courts, not Congress, and we are confident that the Department of Justice decision to prosecute this unlawful transaction is the right one for consumers, for competition, and for the economy as a whole.

Here's the full letter that Rep. Shuler sent to the president today:

September 15, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On September 8th, you came before a Joint Session of Congress and asked us to focus our efforts on solving America's jobs crisis by working to reduce unemployment, encourage private investment and promote new and innovative technologies that will drive job creation. We agree wholeheartedly, and both the Congress and the administration should take action immediately to battle our country's severe economic crisis.

One opportunity rests squarely before you with the proposed transaction between AT&T and T-Mobile USA. We urge the administration to resolve expeditiously your concerns and approve the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA. The current merger proposal embraces the three job creation strategies you have already highlighted.

First, the merger will reduce unemployment. AT&T has announced plans to repatriate 5,000 jobs that are currently being performed overseas. In addition to these 5,000 jobs, a recent study (SITE) has shown that the merger will create somewhere between 55,000 and 96,000 new jobs to integrate the two networks and upgrade facilities.

Secondly, the merger will engender new private investment to deploy wireless high speed Internet access services to 97 percent of the U.S. population. Coverage of this magnitude will necessitate an additional $8 billion investment from AT&T over and above its current industry leading capital investments.

You recognized the economic importance of these services in your "State of the Union" address to the nation last January, when you said "within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans." The proposed merger will virtually achieve that goal - and do so on a faster timetable than you had proposed and without a single dime of taxpayer money.

Finally, the deployment of next generation, wireless broadband is the type of investment in new and innovative technology that will drive job creation for years to come. A recent study by Deloitte predicts that next generation wireless broadband buildout by the wireless industry will create 371,000 to 771,000 jobs and GDP growth between $73 billion and $151 billion by 2016. AT&T's proposed merger commitment to make available this new technology to 98 percent of the nation's population will be a key component of the industry buildout.

We recognize that the Department of Justice has intervened in the merger to ensure competitive markets and protect consumers. Addressing these concerns through a settlement agreement that ensures robust competition while preserving the job creation, capital infrastructure investment and wireless broadband deployment benefits of the merger should be the Department's goal.

We urge you to encourage resolution of this matter in a timely fashion and appreciate your consideration of our concerns.


Heath Shuler
Member of Congress

This story was originally posted at ZDNet's Between the Lines.