Last March, T-Mobile announced it had cut its workforce by 5% in the wake of the blocked merger with AT&T. Now, Brier Dudley of the Seattle Timesreports, the company is gearing up for a new round of cutbacks:
T-Mobile USA Chief Executive Philipp Humm warned employees a few months ago that more layoffs would happen by the end of May. It’s happening right on schedule.
Today, the company is informing employees of “a series of organizational changes,” a spokeswoman said.
A net loss of about 900 jobs will result. But even more jobs are likely affected by the changes, which include layoffs and shifts to outsource more work.
Last week, the Department of Justice — in response to AT&T withdrawing its proposed merger with T-Mobile from the FCC — announced it would seek to postpone or withdraw its case against the merger. In response, AT&T issued the following response today (via MarketWatch):
“AT&T and Deutsche Telekom advised Judge Huvelle this morning that they wish to stay any further Court proceedings until January 18, 2012, to allow the two companies time to evaluate all options. The U.S. Department of Justice joined in the filing.
“AT&T is committed to working with Deutsche Telekom to find a solution that is in the best interests of our respective customers, shareholders and employees. We are actively considering whether and how to revise our current transaction to achieve the necessary regulatory approvals so that we can deliver the capacity enhancements and improved customer service that can only be derived from combining our two companies’ wireless assets.”
When the FCC took the unprecedented step of releasing its draft Staff Memo recommending a rejection of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger plenty of eyebrows were raised. Now, over at The Hill‘s Congress Blog, Internet industry analyst Larry Downes points out the report itself contains a number of startling flaws:
Analysts, legal scholars, and economists have already uncovered plenty of reasons to question the quality of the staff’s analysis of the deal, which was never voted on by the Commissioners. That is, other than Chairman Julius Genachowski, who released it even after the parties withdrew their application to concentrate on an upcoming antitrust trial.
Now another disturbing irregularity has turned up, this time hiding in a footnote. It seems the report’s strongly-worded recommendation to reject the deal is based in large part on fudging one of two preliminary calculations the agency uses to start its merger reviews: the spectrum screen.
In response to the Department of Justice’s move to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, the Communications Workers of America has released a new report on the effect blocking the merger will have. Titled, rather bluntly, “Blocking the AT&T/T-Mobile Merger will Harm Consumers, Communities & the Economy,” the report covers everything from AT&T’s commitment to expand 4G LTE, to the effect the merger will have on much-needed job creation.
The entire report is a must-read, but there are a few points made that are worth highlighting, beginning with the argument that blocking the merger will be good for preserving competition. As CWA states:
“[T]here is no long-term future for a stand-alone T-Mobile as an effective competitor: it has neither the spectrum nor the capital to create a competitive network utilizing the latest wireless technology (called 4G LTE). In January 2011 the CEO of T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom (DT), stated that DT would not provide the capital for T-Mobile’s 4G LTE deployment. T-Mobile also is on a downward trajectory suffering from declining revenue, eroding profit margins and increasing customers defections.”
With Verizon, AT&T, and now Sprint making the shift to 4G LTE technology, the fact that T-Mobile will soon be left behind regardless of the merger continues to be overlooked. And given that only AT&T and T-Mobile are compatible when it comes to network technology, the idea that T-Mobile could simply merge with someone else simply isn’t realistic. From the report:
There are two separate technological family trees that are not easily compatible. GSM based systems have evolved through UMTS, HSPA+, LTE and, the next step, LTE Advanced. CDMA based systems have evolved to EVDO.
• The merger between AT&T and T-Mobile creates technological synergies because each of these companies utilizes GSM and HSPA based networks.
• A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile (these companies were in merger discussions) would have experienced significant technological challenges because the two companies utilize different and incompatible technologies. T-Mobile’s systems are GSM based while Sprint’s systems are CDMA based.
As for AT&T’s ability to expand its 4G LTE network to cover nearly every corner of America — a key point, as it dovetails with President Obama’s State of the Union pledge to bring advanced mobile broadband to everyone — CWA points out such an expansion wouldn’t be feasible without the merger due to capacity and spectrum constraints:
AT&T’s other options could not remotely approach the merger in terms of increasing capacity, utilizing spectrum more efficiently, improving service and expanding 4G LTE deployment… [I]t would take AT&T eight years to obtain and activate the number of cell sites it will obtain from T-Mobile. AT&T also could not depend on a possible federal auction to reallocate spectrum because it is a multi-year process that needs Congressional approval, a FCC rule making, the actual auction and then a period for relocation of incumbent licenses and integration of existing network and equipment with the spectrum — if the bid is successful.
These are just a few of the salient points CWA makes about the merger. There’s much more to be found in the full report, including the effects blocking the merger will have on job creation and efforts to close the digital divide. You should definitely dig in.
With the Justice Department suing to stop the merger of T-Mobile and AT&T, T-Mobile president and CEO Philipp Humm has written an op-ed for the Seattle Times to highlight the company’s reasons for the merger:
The proposed merger of T-Mobile and AT&T will solve an inexorable need for increased network capacity and speed, and it advances the public interest in many different ways. That’s why we at T-Mobile look forward to a speedy settlement of the Justice Department’s lawsuit — a step that will allow consumers to enjoy the many benefits of this deal.
Humm also makes an important point about why time is of the essence when it comes to freeing up more spectrum for wireless use, a key reason for the merger:
Relying on the government to solve this is simply not a viable option, as proposed solutions such as a government-mandated reallocation of spectrum from national defense, broadcasters and commercial operators will take years to accomplish.
The Hill‘s Brendan Sasso reports six members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have sent a letter to the DOJ and FCC in support of the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile:
“In challenging economy times, we need to be especially thoughtful in our approach to private sector investments and potential job growth as we can ill afford to lose valuable opportunities when they arise,” wrote Reps. John Shimkus (Ill.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Steve Scalise (La.), Brett Guthrie (Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Phil Gingrey (Ga.).
“In addition, to the extent that either of your agencies believes that the transaction should be approved subject to certain conditions, such conditions should only impact the parties to the transaction and be narrowly tailored to address any specific harm attributable to the transaction.”
In an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press, our Co-Chairman Jamal Simmons writes about the ongoing problem of America’s digital divide and how the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile will help address the problem. Here’s a taste:
The Internet transforms daily life and delivers opportunities. Millions of Americans are already taking advantage of the benefits of broadband, from entertainment to on-demand education to job searching and better health care options. But too many disconnected Americans are being left behind.
The AT&T/T-Mobile combination is the fastest way to expand wireless broadband to even more Americans—without drawing on scarce American taxpayer dimes. The FCC just has to say yes.
Last July, 10 attorneys general sent a letter to the Department Justice and Federal Communications Commission in support of AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile. Today, those same attorneys general reenforced their support. From their new letter to the DOJ and FCC:
Within the last two weeks, AT&T announced that in connection with the merger it would bring 5,000 jobs back to the U.S. and it committed to no job losses for wireless call center workers at AT&T and T-Mobile on the payroll at the closing of the merger. We again urge both DOJ and the FCC to focus on ways to resolve specific competitive concerns so this merger can proceed and deliver the significant benefits not only for wireless consumers, but also for investment and jobs that will support economic growth.
Our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher has an op-ed for The Gazette in Iowa on the benefits of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger for rural America. Here’s a taste:
[The] promise of expansive rural opportunity leads me to support AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile. The companies combining their strengths will bring 4G LTE wireless broadband access, with data speeds rivaling today’s fastest wired connections, to more than 97 percent of Americans. President Obama has set a goal for 98 percent of the population to have broadband access within five years; the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile very nearly achieves the president’s goal and does so with private capital, not taxpayer funds.
In more Boucher news, the former congressman recently sat down for an interview with WebProNews. Here’s video of the conversation:
Yesterday, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and fourteen other House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama “urging him to swiftly resolve concerns with the proposed transaction between AT&T and T-Mobile USA.” From the official press release:
“The road to economic recovery is long, but there is an opportunity before us to immediately create jobs and spur infrastructure investments and technological innovations that will create jobs for years to come,” said Rep. Shuler. “By settling the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA we can put thousands of Americans back to work and promote economic development across the country. I urge the President to strongly consider the vast benefits this merger will have on job creation and the economy and quickly resolve any concerns the Administration may have with the proposal.”
The full list of co-signers:
Rep. John Barrow
Rep. Mike Ross
Rep. Dan Boren
Rep. Dennis Cardoza
Rep. Joe Baca
Rep. Leonard Boswell
Rep. Ben Chandler
Rep. Jim Costa
Rep. Henry Cuellar
Rep. Mike McIntyre
Rep. Mike Michaud
Rep. Collin Peterson
Rep. Loretta Sanchez
Rep. David Scott
Yesterday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., we held our latest broadband symposium, “Realizing Deployment of Next Generation Broadband Services and Applications to All of America.”
Delivering the keynote address was former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, whose long history as an advocate for infrastructure investment made him well-suited to talk about the critical need to expand America’s digital infrastructure to everyone in the nation. As he said at the start of his keynote:
”Our ability to grow economically and compete in the global marketplace is tied to our infrastructure. And when people use the term infrastructure the average citizen thinks of roads, bridges, maybe mass transit. But infrastructure today has a totally different meaning and building America’s future is dedicated no just to rebuilding and revitalizing our transportation infrastructure, which we dearly need to do, but building out our infrastructure to make us competitive in the future. That means the electric grid, which needs serious work in this country, and of course broadband technology.”
Rendell then pivoted to the challenge wireless providers are facing to keep up with unprecedented demand for mobile data:
”Today, America’s wireless industry continues to grow based on consumer demand that’s at an all time high, and the staggering growth of mobile broadband traffic is creating an explosion in new services, new devices, content and applications.”
After calling for the government and wireless industry to keep working together in order to keep meeting demand, Rendell turned to America’s growing spectrum concerns:
”The looming spectrum crunch threatens to dampen the innovation of the high-tech industry. Driven by explosive growth from mobile broadband data, spectrum exhaust — particularly in urban markets — will challenge our ability to provide the services, the us of smartphones, mobile apps, and content to consumers. Clearly there’s a need for more spectrum and everyone knows it.”
One way to quickly address America’s looming spectrum crunch, Rendell said, is the approval of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, which the former governor is advocating for. But Rendell also made clear spectrum wasn’t the only reason the merger should be approved, and used an example from his terms as governor to help make the point:
”You know, one of the things we did in Pennsylvania that was successful is triple our exports in the eight years I was governor. One of the ways we tripled exports is we went to small and midsized companies who had zero export business and we told them that there’s a market for what you produce. And we told them the countries where that marketplace existed. And we told them how to go about reaching that marketplace, how to do exports and how to deal with the local law and customers. But many of the companies couldn’t do the marketing because they couldn’t get the access [to broadband] they needed. And after this merger, I believe in great part they will.”
In closing his keynote, Rendell tackled regulations and economic growth:
”[W]e’ve got to continue to make the regulatory system work to do its job. Regulation is important. Any suggestion that we should strip away regulations just in return for economic growth is silly. We don’t have to do it. But we have to carry out those regulations in a common sense way that allows for growth and as strong a growth as we can.”
Then the two-term governor challenged America to think big again— not just in broadband deployment, but in all areas of infrastructure:
”We always did big things. We always were fearless. We always took on challenges. And now I think we’re at a critical juncture and that American spirit has to be unleashed again. That spirit will come and that unleashing will come from letting technology do its job.”
Speaking of the merger, on Monday the Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a new paper on the positive effect AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile will have on jobs. From the official press release:
The research element of the compilation includes the study by the Economic Policy Institute that concludes the merger will create 96,000 jobs over the next seven years, work made necessary by the billions of dollars in capital investments planned for building out America’s 4-G broadband network.
The real world experience includes the fact that AT&T employees represented by CWA are protected by contract language that says they cannot be laid off if their work has been off-shored, as well as the fact that there has never been a merger-related layoff of a CWA covered worker in 17 previous mergers and/or acquisitions by AT&T.
Via Brendan Sasso of The Hill, AT&T has revealed over 100 mayors around the country now support the company’s merger with T-Mobile:
“Perhaps no one is closer to the needs of local communities than America’s mayors. So we’re especially pleased that over a hundred of these elected officials have recognized the importance to their cities and towns of our merger with T-Mobile,” said James Cicconi, AT&T’s vice president of external and legislative affairs.
Among the reasons the mayors offered for their support were job growth and expanded broadband access.
With Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, scheduled to move on later this month, Sara Jerome of the National Journalreports the DOJ has announced current chief of staff Sharis Pozen will step in to the role.
The DOJ is currently reviewing the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.
Earlier this week, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith voiced his support for the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Now, The Hill‘s Gautham Nagesh reports Senators Mike Lee and John Cornyn — two members of the Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust subpanel — have joined him:
“Based on the evidence available to the Subcommittee, there are a number of reasons why a merger between AT&T and T-Moble may prove to be a positive step along the path to world-class wireless broadband throughout the United States,” the pair wrote.
“Some of this evidence suggests that the merger would provide significant and immediate efficiencies enabling enhanced service quality, expanded network capacity, and increased data speeds.”
With regulatory scrutiny of the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger just getting underway, USA Today‘s David Lieberman sat down with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to talk about the deal, the regulatory process, and why the merger will be good for both AT&T and T-Mobile consumers. A sample exchange:
Q: What exactly can you do with T-Mobile that you can’t do alone?
A: In the last four years, the volume of (traffic on) these (wireless broadband) networks is up 8,000%. We believe that we’re going to go up, in five years, eight to 10 times from where we are today. We don’t have the spectrum position to accomplish that.
T-Mobile’s spectrum is very compatible with ours. In cities like New York, we put the two companies together, and we get a very quick lift in capacity of about 30%. That means fewer dropped calls, better service quality, and it gives us a path to do something that neither one of us could do independently, and that is deploy fourth-generation mobile broadband to 95% of the U.S.
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