AT&T/T-Mobile opponents remind me of gossip magazines writers

The Twitter-sphere is all lit up with arguments for and against AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA. As you may know, the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Department of Justice will be reviewing the deal over the next several months. The FCC will apply a public interest standard, while the DOJ applies a threat to competition standard for determining whether the acquisition will pass muster.

In other words, this review will boil down to anti-trust law and microeconomics. You wouldn’t think so when you listen to the arguments made by some opponents to the acquisition.

I say some opponents because not all those opposed to the acquisition are stereotypical haters. They have expressed legitimate concerns about service coverage and whether there will be a change in the market structure that may not benefit market participants. Unfortunately, those reasoned voices are the minority.

Opponents micro blogging away on Twitter appear focused only on the usual innuendos regarding civil rights groups, arguably the very groups that paved the way for the free democratic discourse opposing groups and individuals are enjoying in the digital age. It’s like slapping your grandfather.

Rather than scaring consumers with the usual claims of the industry being eaten up by the big dogs while spreading rumors of civil rights groups on the take, how about more reasonable conversations.

How about them Dawgs

Paul Chamber, AT&T’s director of external affairs for Northeast Georgia, wrote a piece for OnlineAthens.com, laying out an elegant and straightforward argument for AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile USA. Mr. Chambers, a native of Athens, Georgia, described how the acquisition will benefit citizens in Bulldog Country.

In short, by purchasing T-Mobile, AT&T can increase its economies of scale which makes expanding into rural areas a lot less expensive. This is the gist behind Mr. Chambers’ argument and why, in my opinion, this acquisition will pay off for the underserved consumer.

AFL-CIO gives reasoned analysis for supporting ATT/T-Mobile

I am pleasantly surprised by the analysis the AFL-CIO conducted prior to giving its support. The AFL-CIO represents workers which means it represents consumers, consumers that have just as much of a self-interest in receiving wireless broadband access and wireless voice services that won’t drop off. The 4G services that AT&T may offer will make workers more productive. Just as important is this disruption in the telecom market will entice innovators to enter and compete.

Rural Cellular Association should not be mixing up the markets

Steven K. Berry, president and chief executive officer of the Rural Cellular Association wrote an op-ed for The Shreveport Times laying out an argument against AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

Part of Mr. Berry’s argument is that as a result of the acquisition, AT&T and its duopoly partner-in-crime, Verizon, will take advantage of smaller rural carriers that negotiate with the two telecom giants for backhaul services. Backhaul refers to the wired connections between towers used to transmit cell call signals.

Unless T-Mobile is a provider of backhaul services, I don’t see how AT&T acquiring them will have any impact on backhaul. It sounds like the RCA is seeking a backdoor to policymakers. This may be an argument to place a totally unrelated condition on the acquisition. Nothing in this argument addresses consumer welfare, especially the benefit of getting 4G wireless broadband access to underserved consumers in both rural and urban areas.

The market consumers are concerned about is the market for enduser wireless services. The market Mr. Berry is referring to is for the corporate rural carriers. You guys can take care of yourselves, obviously, because your argument sure isn’t taking care of the consumer.

House Democrats show support for ATT/T-Mobile deal

Politic365.com today reported that G.K. Butterfield, Democrat of North Carolina, led over 70 Democrats in supporting AT&T, Inc.’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA. Seems like the congressman from the Tar Heel state is concerned with the digital divide for both rural and minority communities in his district.

Mr. Butterfield represents North Carolina’s First District which is 97.5% rural and 50.9% African American. Unlike opponents of the acquisition, who seem to only focus on how big AT&T is, Mr. Butterfield is emphasizing the increased access to broadband that the transaction may provide.