Politics

Consumer Advocates Urge CPUC to Investigate AT&T/T-Mobile Deal

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Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

Vote on Inquiry Scheduled for Thursday

SAN FRANCISCO – As the California Public Utilities Commission prepares to vote on whether to investigate AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile, The Greenlining Institute and other consumer advocates are urging the commission to move ahead with an investigation.

The proposed investigation, scheduled for consideration at Thursday’s CPUC meeting, would focus on the merger’s “effect on California ratepayers and the California economy.” While regulatory authority to block the merger rests with the federal government, the results of investigations by official state bodies like the CPUC would carry significant weight.

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“There are a myriad of issues that will be of huge consequence to Californians in this merger,” said Greenlining Institute General Counsel Samuel S. Kang. “We’re very worried about the future of low-cost broadband access in an environment with greatly reduced competition.

“The CPUC has a responsibility to protect the public interest, and to use its influence to make sure the Feds do the same,” Kang added. “The last time it reviewed a major merger, the Federal Communications Commission never held any public hearings in California, which was frustrating. This is a pivotal opportunity for the CPUC to show whether they will merely follow the issue or exhibit leadership.”

A number of state authorities have raised objections to the merger, pledged to investigate it themselves, or supported such investigations, including the New York Public Service Commission, Louisiana Public Service Commission, New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel and the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.