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Microsoft joined with Facebook and 6 other technology companies in a filing to the FCC last night in a statement of support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The deals supporters include Yahoo, Oracle, Research in Motion and VC firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Partners. Their argument is pretty much summed up by saying that the proposed deal is the best way for AT&T to expand their network capacity in order to serve a larger portion of America with high-speed wireless services.
“The FCC must seriously weigh the benefits of this merger and approve it,” the companies write. “Such action will help to meet the near term wireless broadband needs of consumers and ensure that we are globally competitive as the world increasingly embraces wireless broadband connectivity.”
I do understand why these companies feel the need to put forth such a letter and yet they are both well served by AT&T and T-Mobile separately as much as they would be together and given AT&T’s current record of network management, I’m still skeptical (and so should they) that AT&T can properly build a network that could serve 97% of Americans with LTE. Research in Motion should be much more concerned about keeping their own company from getting gobbled up or disappearing as competitors continue to pull away mores than they should be worried about this proposed deal. And while I’m sure this will give AT&T a needed boost in their “we’ve got real support” as opposed to the small foundations they’ve been touting as vocal supporters they should be focused on the task at hand, improving coverage now.
Check the full text of the filing below:
Julius Genachowski, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
June 6, 2011
WT 11-65: In the Matter of applications of AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG for consent to assign or Transfer Control of licenses and Authorizations
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Today, consumers are increasingly using smart phones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices to wirelessly connect to the Internet and to each other. We expect access to our content, information and services wherever we are. As a result, consumer demand for wireless broadband is dramatically increasing and our wireless networks are struggling to keep pace with the demand. Given the network capacity challenges, policymakers must give meaningful consideration to AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile as a means of addressing their near term wireless broadband capacity needs.
Despite the network challenges presented by the surging consumer demand, the United States must continue to lead in wireless broadband technologies. U.S. companies are at the forefront of driving innovations in devices, applications and services and an ever evolving wireless network is essential to realizing new and innovative offerings. An increasingly robust and efficient wireless network is part of a virtuous innovation cycle and a healthy wireless ecosystem is an important part of our global competitiveness.
AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile represents a near term means of addressing the rising consumer demand. For example, the merged company will be able to leverage a larger network of cell sites allowing greater reuse of spectrum and increasing the wireless broadband capacity of the network. Furthermore, AT&T has indicated that it will migrate the T-Mobile network to LTE technology and offer LTE-based wireless broadband to 97.3 percent of the U.S. population. AT&T has stated that its LTE deployment will bring significant benefits to residents of rural areas and smaller communities, where the benefits of real-time video and similar capabilities are most urgently needed to fill gaps in physical infrastructure for healthcare, education, and other social needs.
The challenge of keeping pace with consumer demand and continuing to lead globally in wireless broadband services and products requires that we tackle the issue on multiple fronts. Many policy related efforts will not be able to quickly address near term capacity needs. The FCC must seriously weigh the benefits of this merger and approve it. Such action will help to meet the near term wireless broadband needs of consumers and ensure that we are globally competitive as the world increasingly embraces wireless broadband connectivity.