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Group Pushes House Dems for Reversal on AT&T Merger Group Pushes House Dems for Reversal on AT&T Merger

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Congress

Group Pushes House Dems for Reversal on AT&T Merger

August 18, 2011

Telecom reform group Free Press is pressuring House Democrats who have promoted
AT&T's merger with T-Mobile to "revise" their positions.

The group wrote this week to nearly 80 lawmakers who have promoted the merger and asked them to have a change of heart.

Free Press targeted House Democrats who signed the letter, led by North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, in June that urged federal regulators to take note of the benefits of AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile. The lawmakers touted the company's pledge to make wireless Internet service available to 97 percent of Americans if the deal is approved.

Free Press pushed those lawmakers to change their views because "several signers were misled at the time by AT&T's false claim that it needed to acquire T-Mobile to provide wireless broadband coverage for 97 percent of the country's population."

According to Free Press, AT&T could achieve the same goal by investing $3.8 billion in its network rather than purchasing T-Mobile for $39 billion.

The advocacy group cites filings AT&T sent to regulators that became public last week. The filings prompted criticism from merger opponents who claim the documents reveal that the nation can reach nearly universal wireless coverage without the AT&T merger.

"The public now has the truth: AT&T can deliver 97 percent mobile broadband coverage
without sacrificing an estimated 20,000 American jobs2 and without reducing investment in the U.S. wireless market by more than $10 billion," Free Press said.

The advocacy group asked the lawmakers to "revise" their recommendations to the Justice Department and the FCC, which are reviewing the deal.

AT&T pushed back in a statement, arguing that Free Press is "twisting words and misrepresenting facts." The company said its claims have been consistent, and that it could not expand wireless access to 97 percent of Americans without buying T-Mobile.

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