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FCC Grills AT & T Over Jobs Claims

Fri, 10/14/2011 - 8:24am
Maisie Ramsay

AT&T says its merger with T-Mobile USA will create jobs, not eliminate them. Now the FCC is asking AT&T to prove it.

Yesterday, the agency said AT&T had failed to respond to questions sent in May about whether the merger would result in increased jobs and asked for a reply.

"Our review of the information in our record suggests that AT&T's responses on this issue remain complete," Rick Kaplan, chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, wrote in the letter. "Indeed, AT&T to date has produced almost nothing in response to Question 36."

Question 36 was part of an FCC information request dated May 27 which sought "all plans, analyses and reports discussing the creation or loss of jobs in the proposed transaction were to be consummated."

The FCC specifically asked AT&T to provide additional stats about "cost synergies... that arises from payroll reductions" and more information about the 5,000 call center jobs it has pledged to repatriate to the United States if the merger were approved.

AT&T has yet to provide a full response to the FCC. However, it did send the agency a letter rebutting comments from Public Knowledge that "no jobs will be created through this deal."

In the letter, AT&T restated its promise to make a "job offer guarantee" for T-Mobile's non-management employees, retain both companies' call center employees in the United States and relocate foreign call center jobs.

However, AT&T conceded that "some jobs serving redundant functions would be eliminated to reduce costs."

"AT&T will rely primarily on natural attrition – employees retiring, taking other jobs, etc. – to accomplish those reductions," AT&T wrote.

In its defense of the merger, AT&T has repeatedly cited a study from the Economic Policy Institute which reported the T-Mobile deal could generate between 55,000 and 96,000 jobs over the next seven years. The study's findings are predicated upon AT&T's pledge to invest $8 billion in its network if the merger goes through.

AT&T did not reference the report in its redacted reply to the FCC. Last month, Sprint came out with its own study rebutting AT&T's jobs claims. Sprint's analysis found that the merger would actually eliminate between 34,000 and 60,000 jobs.

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