The Federal Communications Commission may have stopped the clock on its merger review, but AT&T has not stopped pushing the deal as a boon to customers, in this case particularly minority customers.
At a Minority Media & Telecommunications Council conference in Washington, AT&T senior executive vice president James Cicconi said that the deal was supported by most civil rights organizations, more than half of the governors in the country and even high tech industry players that were on the other side of the argument from AT&T on the network neutrality issue.
He also argued that T-Mobile was a foreign-owned company whose parent was not going to invest in both the U.S. and Europe and that he had to respect the decision to opt out of the U.S. market, the message being that under AT&T ownership that opting out wouldn't happen.
Asked what a wireless world dominated by Verizon and AT&T would mean for his audience, Cicconi said that the space was still competitive. He pointed to the recent FCC wireless competition report and its finding that the percentage of people with access to at least five facilities-based carriers had gone from 70% to about 90%.
Cicconi also said that, despite Sprint's contention that the deal threatened its very existence, "they're not going away." He pointed out that Sprint had 51 milllion customers and growing and was one of the biggest companies in the world. "Choices are there and people are excercising those choices," he said.
Cicconi was essentially preaching to the choir since MMTC made the AT&T-T-Mobile deal its first ever merger endorsement.
Verizon executive vice president Tom Tauke was on the morning panel with Cicconi. He pointed out that his company had made $18 billion in capital investments, a quarter of those to minority firms. He also pitched wireless as as particularly important to his audience since studies shows that African Americans and Hispanics were heavier users of smart phones than caucasians.
Tauke put in a plug for freeintg up spectrum, saying it was a public policy issue MMTC members should get involved in. He also he expected the House to mark up its version of an incentive auction bill within the next few days.