Rural America: AT&T-T-Mobile Merger Would Be a Good Thing

By Josh Long Comments

A number of organizations are voicing their support for AT&T’s $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, asserting that the merger will benefit underserved areas such as rural America and Indian lands.

The National Grange, an agricultural organization dating back to 1867, on Friday told the Federal Communications Commission that the merger will result in additional wireless broadband investment in rural areas.

“The merger between AT&T and T-Mobile will allow for the deployment of a more robust national network, which will serve more communities, and thus more individuals and businesses in hard-to-reach areas," said Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange.

The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a coalition supporting broadband availability in the United States, also supports the merger between the nation’s second- and fourth-largest mobile operators.

“This merger is in the public interest, because it will achieve a very high level of broadband penetration," said Rick Boucher, the former congressman (D.-Va.) who has been named an honorary chairman of the IIA. “Broadband is the bridge that links rural areas – like many communities in my home state of Virginia – to the economic mainstream."

Other organizations that have recently expressed support for the merger include the National Black Farmers Association, the Intertribal Agricultural Council and the National Rural Health Association.

“We are writing today to encourage you to approve the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger because it will bring direct benefits to the Indian agricultural producers and Tribal agencies with whom we work," wrote Ross Racine, executive director of the Intertribal Agricultural Council, in a letter dated May 25 to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “If the merger is approved, AT&T has promised to bring high-speed wireless Internet connections to a much larger section of the country faster than it would be able to do if the merger is not approved. This includes many areas in Indian Country that are not currently served or are served only through slower, less reliable systems."

AT&T has said its acquisition of T-Mobile USA will enable the company to deploy fourth-generation mobile services to more than 97 percent of Americans, or roughly 55 million more people than under its current plans.

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