Thursday, July 7, 2011

Loss of access by Latinos a concern for group opposing AT&T/T-Mobile merger

Greenlining Tells CPUC: AT&T/T-Mobile deal should be blocked if harm isn’t mitigated.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- The Greenlining Institute today filed opening comments in the California Public Utilities Commission’s investigation of the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, urging that the deal be blocked if a variety of harms it would likely cause aren’t thoroughly mitigated.

Greenlining’s filing, available online here, reviews a range of adverse impacts from the proposed merger, especially reduced competition and elimination of spectrum in the market for low-cost wireless service, leading to network congestion, degraded service quality and higher prices. Greenlining also highlighted the threat of closed retail stores and lost jobs.

“In a world where wireless access is a necessity, the potential loss of T-Mobile’s low-cost service presents a real threat to millions of low and moderate income Californians,” said Greenlining Institute General Counsel Samuel S. Kang. “As it now stands, AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile will be bad news for our communities.”

In today’s filing, Greenlining notes that AT&T has provided absolutely no assurances that low-cost wireless options will be retained, even though the CPUC has directly asked for this information. AT&T has also refused to state that jobs will not be cut, or to provide any real commitment to deploy 4G service in underserved communities.

Last month, Greenlining filed a petition to deny the merger with the Federal Communications Commission and was integral in urging the CPUC to order a robust investigation of the deal. In today’s filing, Greenlining urges the CPUC to require AT&T and T-Mobile to provide a more complete and comprehensive assessment of the merger, so that the FCC can properly scrutinize and address its adverse impacts.

As part of its investigation, the CPUC will conduct a public hearing on the proposed merger on July 7 at 6:00 p.m. at the CPUC Auditorium at 505 Van Ness Ave in San Francisco. Greenlining staff attorneys Stephanie Chen and Enrique Gallardo will attend the hearing and will be available for media interviews. The CPUC will also conduct public hearings in Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Orange County and the Central Valley. 

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