Politics

AT&T/T-Mobile Merger Questioned at Oakland Forum

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AT&T California President Ken McNeely Fields Questions, But Doubts Remain

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Representatives of community groups raised serious questions about the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile this morning at a public forum in Oakland. AT&T California President Ken McNeely answered questions as part of a panel that included Commissioner Cathy Sandoval of the California Public Utilities Commission and attorneys from The Greenlining Institute and The Utility Reform Network (TURN).

Attendees appreciated McNeely’s willingness to answer questions, but many felt they still needed to know more about the company’s plans.

If the merger is approved, AT&T would surpass Verizon as the largest mobile carrier in the country, with nearly 40 percent of customers. Together, AT&T and Verizon would have over 70 percent of the market. At present, T-Mobile is the low-cost carrier with the broadest national footprint, leading to concerns about cost and lack of competition if the deal goes ahead.

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“We truly appreciate Ken McNeely’s willingness to answer questions in front of a roomful of consumer advocates and community leaders that he knew would be skeptical,” said Greenlining Institute General Counsel Samuel S. Kang, “but it’s clear that major questions remain. Wireless technology isn’t a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity, and people are understandably worried – about affordability, access, and the possibility of job cuts. We need clear commitments from AT&T’s national leadership on what they’re going to do to ensure wireless access for low-income consumers, how they plan to mitigate the effects of any job cuts, and what their plans are for contracting with diverse businesses in struggling communities.”