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76 House Democrats Tout AT & T, T-Mobile Deal

Mon, 06/27/2011 - 8:14am
Maisie Ramsay

More than one-third of House Democrats touted AT&T's buyout of T-Mobile USA to regulators reviewing the deal in a letter sent Friday to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department.

The letter, signed by 76 Democrat representatives, asks the agencies to consider AT&T's pledge to expand its LTE deployment in their respective reviews of the company's acquisition of T-Mobile.

The lawmakers argued that AT&T's merger with T-Mobile would improve access to mobile broadband service and create jobs.

"The pending AT&T merger proposal pledges to help realize that vision and for this reason, we urge you to give important consideration to these and other prospective benefits during your comprehensive reviews," the representatives said in the letter.

The letter, led by North Carolina Democrat G.K. Butterfield, only asked the FCC and DOJ to consider AT&T's mobile broadband plans in their review and did not specifically request the agencies to approve the deal. 

"We are cognizant that the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA is currently being reviewed by the Commission and the Department, and it is important that those reviews proceed in a thorough and expeditious manner to fairly examine all relevant issues including consumer prices, competition, and innovation. One significant issue to assess in your reviews is increased national coverage," the lawmakers said.

Non-profit consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, a vocal opponent of AT&T's merger with T-Mobile, said it wished members of Congress who signed onto the letter had studied the deal more closely.

"Had they done so, they would have found that AT&T's deployment plan is only marginally better than what they have proposed before and that under this merger, jobs will be lost, not gained," Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn said in a statement.

AT&T provided contributions to many of the signatories on the letter for the lawmakers 2010 political campaigns, according to a database provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. Moconews reports that 66 of the congressmen and congresswomen who signed the letter received combined contributions of nearly $500,000 from AT&T.

AT&T is a significant contributor to politicians on both sides of the aisle. The Center for Responsive Politics ranks AT&T as the third-largest campaign donor in the country and estimates that the company spent $3.67 million in contributions to Democrats and Republicans during the 2010 campaign cycle alone.

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