|The Jack Wade Show||
Many progressives are up in arms about the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. They say that the merger will create something that could be the equivalent of the old pre-breakup Bell System. In short, fighting the merger has become one of their crusades.
As an individual who is both a progressive and someone who has lived through the worst days of the old Bell System monopoly, I can shed some light on this issue. On the I “hear you side” of things, I can remember the days that you had to rent each extension phone from your local Bell System company. You were not allowed to connect a privately purchased phone to the telephone network because they fed government regulators some cock and bull story about user installed phones “endangering” the telephone network. The reality was that they wanted to collect the monthly extension fees. That was just one of their many fees and they enforced it with a vengeance! If you dared to connect your phone to their precious network (they could measure ring current to tell) you just might get a phone call from Ma Bell threatening to bring legal action against you for theft of services. Now THAT'S an example of an overreaching monopoly!
On the surface, the AT&T/T-Mobile merger seems to be a return to those bad old days. In life, things are rarely what they appear to be and this merger is no exception. As progressives we believe in labor unions. Did you know that AT&T is a union shop? Did you know that T-Mobile has discouraged the formation of unions in it's U.S. Facilities even though it's parent company, Deutsche Telekom is unionized in Germany? A merger with AT&T will give CWA, the union that represents AT&T's employees, the opportunity to unionize T-Mobile. T-Mobile could become an American owned, union represented shop. Did you know that Sprint, a company that is not very friendly to unions and outsources much of it's work overseas is also trying to merge with T-Mobile? I don't know about you but I don't want to reward a company that outsources work overseas by killing the AT&T merger and throwing it over to Sprint by default.
There are two other items that many ideologues overlook. Rumor in the industry was that if Deutsche Telekom couldn't find a buyer for T-Mobile, they were thinking of abandoning it! That would create a powerful AT&T by default by reducing lower cost competition. The second item is a technical issue. AT&T and T-Mobile are both GSM wireless carriers. Sprint, T-Mobile's other possible merger candidate is a CDMA carrier. In layman’s terms, Sprint and T-Mobile are apples and oranges. Due to that technical incompatibility AT&T couldn't use Sprint to enlarge it's network. Therefore, if AT&T wanted to expand it's network after a Sprint merger, it would have to ask the FCC to allocate precious RF spectrum that would probably be taken away from another service that also needs the spectrum.
Under the deal being addressed now, AT&T would be able to deliver high-speed wireless to 97% of Americans, including many rural and minority populations that are currently under served.
Some issues can't be reduced to simple political slogans. Therefore, one thing I can say is if you believe in a thriving, unionized workforce and truly want to keep jobs in the U.S.A., think twice before you throw rocks at the AT&T/T-Mobile merger!
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