AT&T: The 100 Black Men of America gets it

The 100 Black Men of America understands the impact that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA can have on employment, particularly in the African American community. As its chairman, Albert E. Dotson, Jr., noted in his support of the purchase, “As AT&T works with T-Mobile to extend its network to 249 million Americans – roughly 95 percent of the population – we anticipate opportunities arising for minority suppliers, vendors, community partners, and for mobile content and application developers.”

That is the dynamic that opponents simply do not get when it comes to the acquisition. It’s a fallacy to say that the acquisition will not have a positive impact on jobs and competition because getting rid of overlapping operational units post acquisition may mean that there will be job cuts. That is a static, defeatist, and myopic view.

On the contrary. It means that entrepreneurial animal spirits will be turned loose as AT&T will be forced to create innovative products to combat smaller players pursuing specialized niche markets. It means that content providers and application developers will seek partnerships with smaller carriers in order to help these carriers further distinguish themselves and their products.

Like a pebble that is dropped in a pond causes ripple effects, this acquisition causes the disruption necessary to force the wireless market to the next level of innovation.

Is the FCC prepared to disappoint black farmers

The shrinkage in agriculture’s role in the American economy is well documented. Farmers face fierce competition from imports and if threats to the subsidies they receive were to take root, they would have to find more efficient ways to produce and get product to market.

Like all industries, real time information is crucial to farming. Commodity prices fluctuate daily, if not faster. Climate patterns may have a negative impact on agricultural supply. Already geographically isolated from urban information centers, the ability to be tied in to real time information must be maintained.

These concerns are amplified for black farmers who are already constrained by relatively lower revenues and a smaller level of capital. Broadband access to aggregated information can give these farmers a chance to play on a level playing field.

Forgive the pun, but just like spraying fertilizer on a field is necessary for crop growth, AT&T’s willingness to spread its broadband footprint in rural areas is necessary to sustain black farmers. This is an issue that opponents to AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA never address. Fortunately, the National Black Farmer’s Association is expressing this concern.

For many years, farmers have been requesting this kind of telecommunications service in rural farming communities; with AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile, this will usher in a new era of broadband accessibility and services to millions of rural Americans and will assist the farm community in delivering their products to market faster and more efficiently” said Dr. John W. Boyd, Jr., President, National Black Farmer’s Association.  This technological advancement will also impact jobs and education, and expand much needed services to a vastly underserved American population. 

These concerns are amplified for black farmers who are already constrained by relatively lower revenues and a smaller level of capital. Broadband access to aggregated information can give these farmers a chance to play on a level playing field.

Forgive the pun, but just like spraying fertilizer on a field is necessary for crop growth, AT&T’s willingness to spread its broadband footprint in rural areas is necessary to sustain black farmers. This is an issue that opponents to AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA never address. Fortunately, the National Black Farmer’s Association is expressing this concern.

For many years, farmers have been requesting this kind of telecommunications service in rural farming communities; with AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile, this will usher in a new era of broadband accessibility and services to millions of rural Americans and will assist the farm community in delivering their products to market faster and more efficiently” said Dr. John W. Boyd, Jr., President, National Black Farmer’s Association.  This technological advancement will also impact jobs and education, and expand much needed services to a vastly underserved American population.

To be fair, the Federal Communications Commission did issue a national broadband plan to Congress that gives some mention of getting broadband to underserved communities, but this act alone does not meet my, or anyone else’s, definition of urgency. Its been 18 months and we see no action from Congress in terms of its approval. Shouldn’t the FCC lobby harder for the plan’s approval?

Besides net neutrality, what other distracting policy initiatives will the FCC pursue before it focuses on broadband adoption for the underserved in rural areas?

Meanwhile, let’s allow AT&T’s free market approach move broadband adoption forward in rural communities. It will provide a whole lot more than what we have today.

The National Association of Neighborhoods brings excellent ground level view of ATT/T-Mobile

Yesterday, my son and I attended the Atlanta Caribbean Carnival. We followed the steel bands along the very streets of downtown Atlanta; the very streets I drive my son on when I take him to school. It’s interesting how different things look like from the ground.

That’s why I take heart with the National Association of Neighborhoods position on the AT&T/T-Mobile USA transaction. According to Ricardo Byrd, NAN executive director, “Significant private sector investments in the nation’s wireless digital infrastructure mean more jobs and economic growth and innovation opportunities.”

Note the emphasis on private sector investments. We need to keep in mind that AT&T/T-Mobile is not just about wireless phone calls. That is so 2005. AT&T/T-Mobile is about broadband.

AT&T, along with Verizon, have been at the forefront of getting broadband into neighborhoods, whether bringing it to your house or to a pedestal in the neighborhood. Were they doing this for altruistic reasons? Of course not. Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner have been kicking their butts. Deploying fiber to the neighborhood or the house made good business.

The way I see it as a layman, AT&T is buying spectrum capacity so that it can deliver higher quality services. Given the disproportionate use of wireless devices by African Americans to access the Internet, faster uploads, faster downloads, and higher speeds resulting from increased spectrum will benefit African Americans not only as consumers, but as producers.

That prospect is enough to keep me dancing in the streets.

California joins Louisiana, West Virginia in review of AT&T, T-Mobile

Bloomberg reports that the California Public Utilities Commission wants to take a closer look at AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA. According to the report, the CPUC may start its formal review as early as June 9 after another CPUC vote.

Do I expect much impact on the FCC or DOJ’s review of the transaction? Other than citing California’s consumer concerns, no, I don’t. Again, the CPUC will get their C-Span moment and score points with the constituents.

We should not discount the opportunity to hear from consumers while both sides get their arguments placed in as many public records as possible.

Don’t like duopolies? Then make your own soap, soup, and spaghetti sauce.

Posted May 27th, 2011 in AT&T and tagged , , by Alton Drew

If these consumer advocates who oppose the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T, Inc., have a problem with duopolies, then I would expect them to stop buying soap (Lever Bros.; Proctor & Gamble; & Colgate); stop eating canned soup (Campbell, Progresso); and stop using spaghetti sauce (Unilever-Ragu; Campbell Soup-Prego; and Hunt Wesson-Healthy Choice).

Americans buy products and services from duopolies and their slightly bigger cousins, oligopolies, every day. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will compete not just on price, but on service quality.