T-Mobile Call Center Layoffs Results in AT&T Disingenuous Attack on FCC

A few weeks back it was announced that T-Mobile USA which survived a takeover attempt from AT&T Mobility would layoff several call center workers. AT&T which has also laid off call center workers reacted saying their merger could have saved these jobs. Never mind the fact that many duplicative jobs would have been lost as a result of the merger in retail and engineering and that the takeover was anti-competitive as AT&T believes that it could have saved these jobs had the merger occurred.

AT&T is now publicly criticizing the FCC like a sore loser upset at the denial of their merger. Even though they got a nice consolation prize in the form of 700 MHz of unused wireless spectrum from Qualcomm that regulators allowed AT&T to acquire they want to resort to petty attacks against this agency. The fact is the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission denied the merger because it was found to be anti-competitive and not in the public’s interest to have even fewer choices in the nationwide market for wireless service providers.

Their deceptive attempt to Monopolize Everything using their PR campaign “Mobilize Everything” rightly backfired on them and now they need to just move on. AT&T’s arrogance in assuming the merger was a done deal and suggesting to the public their opinion didn’t matter if they were opposed to the merger helped torpedo the takeover. From the start the “inevitable” merger of AT&T Mobility with T-Mobile USA was rightly under intense government scrutiny as it proposed making an already concentrated wireless market even less competitive. Fortunately, regulators were not willing to allow anymore consolidation on such a massive scale in the U.S. wireless market despite all of AT&T’s lobbying and advertising the merger was killed.

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Fourteenth Blog Entry Sun Sept 4th

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Unfortunately for AT&T the Justice Department in ruling against their T Mobil merger decided that the facts of the merger’s anti competitive harms trumped politics. As a supporter of the Open Internet wanting Network Neutrality rules of nondiscrimination to prevent centralization, exploitation and control of the Web by corporations to extend to mobile broadband and wireless services I was no doubt glad that the merger was denied. No doubt AT&T will try to convince Justice to reconsider its decision and try to fight the antitrust lawsuit in court. We have to continue exposing AT&T’s lies about the merger’s so called benefits for consumers but for now let’s celebrate this win. I applaud the Justice Department for its historic and terrific ruling against Ma Bell choosing to deny them an anti competitive Ma Cell. I also call on the FCC to deny this merger also.

The Obama Administration is rightly focused on policies to create jobs in this country and is protecting jobs that would be destroyed if the merger proceeded. I am writing extensively about the decision by Justice to deny the merger of AT&T and T Mobil because this is a big win for consumers and the wireless market. It’s unfortunate that some conservatives are siding with AT&T and complaining about Justice’s decision to protect consumers and competition in the wireless market. We need to remind conservative lawmakers who their constituents really are and that if they don’t stop siding with corporate lobbyists we can and will vote them out of office. Clearly we have more work to do but for now as I’ve noted earlier let’s celebrate.

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Eleventh Blog Entry Sat Sept 3

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Great news for consumers and the wireless market. The United States Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T Mobility’s merger with Deutsche Telecom’s T Mobil USA having found the merger to be anti competitive. Despite all of AT&T’s lobbying efforts consumers who wrote to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division asking that DOJ block the merger have succeeded in convincing Justice to deny this awful merger for consumers and innovators in the wireless market. The merger of AT&T and T Mobil USA would enable Ma Bell to establish a new anti competitive Ma Cell in the wireless market. The merger despite AT&T’s lies would actually destroy jobs in the country and reduce consumer choice. Justice having reviewed the facts made the smart choice in blocking the merger between the country’s second largest wireless carrier and the fourth. The merger after all would substantially reduce competition in the wireless phone market for post-paid cellular phone service. The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski who says his agency is still reviewing the information submitted from supporters and opponents of the deal says his agency also has serious concerns about the transaction. Furthermore considering the FCC has never approved a merger denied by Justice it is highly unlikely they would approve this merger.

Like others supporting the national media reform movement I was disappointed with the Justice Department and FCC’s decisions to allow previous mergers that also had potential anti competitive effects. Remember they approved Qwest Century Link and Comcast NBCU. I was disappointed with the FCC’s sell out on Network Neutrality rules of nondiscrimination and the Chairman’s decision to abandon his own Third Way approach for regulating broadband providers that involved reclassifying broadband as a TItle II  public utility and an advanced “telecommunications service”. I was upset by Congressional Democrats caving to the former Bush Cheney Administration in 2008 when they voted to give telecoms immunity for their participation in the  illegal warrantless wiretapping program conducted during the Bush Administration by the NSA. However, this is a historic and terrific decision by Justice ruling in favor of the public interest and competition. Justice has refused to allow AT&T to have a spectrum monopoly. I believe Internet, broadband, communications, spectrum and media policies from Washington D.C. should be designed not to just benefit big cable and telecommunications companies but should actually serve the public interest. If the merger between AT&T and T Mobil had been approved AT&T  the second largest carrier and Verizon Wireless the nation’s largest carrier would have a near duopoly of the wireless market.  So thanks Justice for standing up to Ma Bell and denying them a Ma Cell.

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Fifth Blog Entry Wed Aug 17

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Today I would like to share some potential good news for consumers concerned about media consolidation and reduced competition in the broadband market for high speed Internet access. After AT&T accidentally posted public comments to the FCC proving that it’s merger with T Mobil USA was really about reducing competition and consumer choice, firing workers and raising prices opposition to Ma Bell‘s proposed merger that would set consumers and the wireless market back 30 years is growing. For most of the twentieth century AT&T had a monopoly over wire-line communications in the market for telephone service but its Ma Bell monopoly was fortunately broken up in 1984 by the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division to increase competition and provide consumers more choice. Unfortunately in the 2000s the FCC and US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division chose to revisit that decision and made a historic mistake when they allowed AT&T to reconstitute Ma Bell by re-merging with two of the original Baby Bells SBC Communications and Bell South that had been part of the Ma Bell system. Now if the mergers involving AT&T Mobility, T Mobil USA and Qualcomm were to proceed it would set consumers and the telecommunications market back another 30 years with AT&T and Verizon Wireless controlling nearly 80% of the wireless market. Effectively AT&T and Verizon Wireless would have a near duopoly of the wireless market for post-paid cellular phone services and the mobile broadband market. Today the wireless market is already an anti competitive oligopoly and the wire-line broadband market for fixed high speed Internet access is a duopoly of big cable and phone companies that has gotten worse with Qwest acquiring US West and now merging with CenturyLink. To allow more consolidation in either the wireless or fixed wire-line markets will result in even fewer consumer choices, higher prices, reduced investment and the potential for more market abuse and ISP discrimination online.

Therefore I oppose Ma Bell’s plans to monopolize the Internet and all our communications technologies. I have seen through their empty rhetoric promising that if their allowed to merge it would magically result in increased consumer choice and that they would provide universal access to broadband. Ma Bell wants to create an anti consumer and anti competitive Ma Cell and they must be stopped before it’s too late.

I also have serious concerns about Time Warner Cable the nation’s second largest cable provider for high speed Internet and digital cable TV service buying Insight Communications the ninth largest cable provider of broadband and digital cable TV service in the country. Previously I have also spoken out against the Comcast NBCU merger that was unfortunately approved For it’s anti competitive and anti consumer harms. However, I am pleased because of it’s approval of that merger that the FCC despite opposition by cable companies is strengthening carriage rules.

I worry about not just telecom companies discriminating online but cable providers as well with cable companies setting up unfair bandwidth caps online to discourage consumers from using services from often smaller competitors providing alternative video related services online. The cable companies cannot offer cheap a la carte programming options nor can the satellite TV providers obligated by programmers to bundle channels by the major broadcast and cable TV networks making consumers pay for channels they may not even watch. To this end they might try two things that might be unfair for consumers. First of all since cable companies also provide broadband in addition to their basic and digital cable services they might discriminate against a la care offerings online by capping the bandwidth of users subscribing to their broadband services but exempt their own services unfairly from competitors. Second create proprietary online services for viewing video online and discourage consumers from cutting the cord by bundling online TV offerings with their paid TV offerings requiring consumers pay for bundled channels.

Already a number of paid TV providers to this end have launched TV Everywhere online services for video requiring authentication so only consumers who subscribe to digital cable or satellite TV that have bundled channels can watch TV online. In fact Time Warner Cable and satellite TV provider Dish Network have created native mobile applications for Apple’s iPad devices to stream live TV channels to Apple’s iPads so you can watch TV also on your iPad. However, since it is part of TV Everywhere you can only watch TV programs using their apps on your iPad if you pay either provider for their TV services. TV Everywhere providers are trying to create a walled garden where you can freely watch live TV streamed to an iPad or other devices as long as you don’t cancel your cable or satellite.

On the issue of broadcast retransmission I often side with the TV providers over the greedy programmers wanting the providers to pay them more each time their retransmission contacts are up for renewal. In fact I have supported Time Warner Cable’s Roll Over or Get Tough web campaign urging them to get tough with programmers as any increase in the fees they have to pay programmers would have to be passed on unfairly to consumers. I have even supported Time Warner Cable’s I Want My TwCable TV app web campaign telling greedy programmers wanting providers to pay them more letting consumers stream programs to an iPad that they should not be double dipping. Instead of price gouging providers and consumers the few greedy TV networks should join the supportive TV networks who are allowing their programs to be streamed by providers to iPads using apps like Time Warner Cable’s TWCable TV app and Dish Network’s DISH Remote Access for no additional fees. After all paying for TV even if you don’t have a DVR/HD DVR and video on demand and/or premium movie channels is still expensive because of bundled channels.

One thing I don’t like in the TV market is the lack of customization of digital cable boxes and satellite TV boxes as you cannot install your own software, change the user interface etc. I have been using Apple Macs with Front Row which was unfortunately discontinued for Mac users in OS X Lion but can continue to use it with my MacBook Pro running Mac OS X Snow Leopard and do plan to do so. I have chosen not to upgrade to Lion so I can keep using Front Row which in my opinion is the best media center software for the Mac available as it has a great user interface. I have also seen Windows Media Center which is more sophisticated than Front Row as it allows users with TV Tuners in their computers to record live TV via Media Center.

Personally I prefer an application called Virtual Dub though when using Windows PCs for capturing and editing TV programs. I like Boxee and the original Apple TV which let’s you sync content to the device as opposed to the new streaming only model of Apple TV. I think streaming is a great idea but the new streaming only modeI of Apple TV is more limited than the original model which I have. I would prefer syncing and streaming as opposed to the new model’s streaming only emphasis. Both the original Apple TV and the new streaming only model use a Front Row like user interface for navigating and accessing content.

I know Dish Network offers their subscribers Google TV but don’t know why anyone even using Dish Network that wants Google TV would pay Dish Network more for having Google TV when they can simply buy a set top box like the Logitech Revue that comes with Google TV software on their own and use it.