In an effort to sweeten the T-Mobile deal, AT&T has pledged to return 5,000 wireless call center jobs to the U.S. and not move any currently U.S.-based call center jobs offshore.
Jobs are issue number one in the current administration, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made a road trip earlier this month to put the FCC's imprimatur on a broadband-based effort to create more call center jobs in the U.S.
AT&T said the 5,000 jobs will be well-paying, with competitive benefits. "At a time when many Americans are struggling and our economy faces significant challenges, we're pleased that the T-Mobile merger allows us to bring 5,000 jobs back to the United States and significantly increase our investment here," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO, in announcing the pledge, which would become effective after the close of the proposed $39 billion deal. "This merger and today's commitment are good for our employees, our customers and our country."
AT&T was billing it as the biggest commitment by an American company to bring jobs back to the country since 2008. The company also pointed to an analysis of its pledged $8 billion infrastructure investment that shows it would create 96,000 new jobs.
"AT&T's commitment today along with the substantial job creation that will come from the future deployment of an LTE network to 97% of the U.S. underscores that a combined AT&T-T-Mobile will generate substantial benefits for our economy. We urge rapid regulatory approval so that the benefits of this transaction can be realized," said T-Mobile in a statement.
AT&T has pledged to build out next-generation wireless to 97% of the population, a major goal of the Obama White House.
The FCC last week re-started the clock on its merger review of the deal, which has been criticized by deal opponents as potentially reducing competition in the wireless space and threatening jobs.