On Friday June 24, 2011, 76 Democratic Members of Congress released a letter of support to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the AT&T – T-Mobile merger currently under review. Of the 76 Democrats signing the letter, 15 are members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. This represents near unanimous support from the Caucus and unanimous support for the Caucus’ leadership.
In the letter sent to FCC Chairman Genachowski and Attorney General Holder, the Democrats explained their support by citing several benefits including: access, economic growth, job creation, and innovation. The signatories reiterated the importance of a network of universal broadband coverage which can reach all urban and rural population centers in America. The lawmakers understand that through the merger, in just a few years, AT&T expects that 97% of Americans will be covered by their mobile broadband network. Mentioning President Obama’s broadband policy objective to bring everyone the access to connect to the digital information age, the Members of Congress emphasized how strong of a breakthrough the merger represents.
Some other notable benefits resulting from the merger cited in the letter were:
- Billions of $’s in capital investments – which can provide an economic stimulus to our recovery process and will create well-paying job opportunities.
- Reducing geographical and socio-economic disparities – which provide an opportunity for rural and underserved communities to have high speed Internet access to harness the potential it brings.
- Mobile broadband service is a big factor in Innovation – which provides the foundation for our economic growth and will continue to allow the United States to keep its competitive advantage. Currently, the US is the world’s leading producer of mobile applications which improve quality of life.
The letter demonstrates that many elected officials understand the importance of broadband access. Equally as important, the letter shows that Hispanic and Latino legislators understand the benefits their communities can receive from this merger. Everyone needs access to the digital age to be competitive and innovative, and AT&T has pledged to bring 4G LTE to 97% of Americans. The Latino community currently has below average user rates of broadband services when compared with the rest of Americans. Reaching underserved groups requires the expansion of mobile broadband, a service which can reach even the fast growing Latino communities in rural areas.