You are hereTruthout: AT&T Deal Raises Questions About Economy, Net Neutrality

Truthout: AT&T Deal Raises Questions About Economy, Net Neutrality


March 24, 2011- Consumer advocacy groups and politicians from both sides of the aisle have begun to speculate on what the impending merger between AT&T and T-Mobile will mean for the country's economy and the effect it could have on contentious policy issues, such as network neutrality.

The $39 billion deal was announced over the weekend. The sale will not officially close until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Justice Department finish conducting regulatory reviews, which could take up to 18 months.

AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said the transaction will create "significant customer, shareowner, and public benefits," and that "with additional spectrum and network capabilities, we can better meet our customers' current demands."

The acquisition would reduce the amount of national wireless providers from four to three and give AT&T approximately 130 million subscribers - about 43 percent of the market - making it the biggest mobile phone carrier in the United States. The FCC and the Justice Department could impose certain restrictions on AT&T/T-Mobile before approving the deal to ensure that the new entity gives up ownership of some of its airwaves and provides coverage in rural areas.

Critics of the deal warn that less competition could have a negative impact on the economy, particularly as mobile devices increase in popularity among average consumers.

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