Public Hearing Held on AT&T – T-Mobile Merger

How many jobs will be lost in AT&T’s T-Mobile takeover?

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held a public participation hearing Thursday, July 21 on the proposed merger of AT&T and T-mobile. Held at 4 pm at the Four Points by Sheraton Culver City in Culver City, the public hearing was well-attended by different groups supporting and opposing the merger.

AT&T has announced a deal to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion. If approved, the new company would have130 million wireless subscribers, making it the largest wireless carrier in the country. Then, 80% of the US telecommunications market would be controlled by just two companies (AT&T and Verizon).

The CPUC is investigating the potential impact of the proposed merger on California’s consumers and communities. Presiding over the hearing was Judge Katherine Macdonald, CPUC President Mike Peevey and Commissioner Katherine Sandoval.

Several community organizations in support of the merger spoke led by Robert Gnaizda, Of Counsel for the National Asian American Coalition, the Latino Business Chamber of Greater LA, the Black Economic Council and Home Free-USA, and who works closely with African American, Latino and Asian American business, church, and civil rights groups. The merger supporters spoke of At&T’s consistent and regular support of communities of color by giving them jobs, contracts, and charitable contributions.

Some of the opposition at the CPUC hearing came from The Greenlining Institute, The Utility Reform Network (TURN), and Free Press. These organizations highlighted concerns about the merger’s impact on customers, including reduced consumer choice and loss of low-cost wireless service. Several significant questions they brought up were: How many retail jobs will be lost? How many T-Mobile retail centers will close in diverse communities? Will the lower costing wireless service offered by T-Mobile be dropped as a result of the merger?

California is one of several states holding hearings on the proposed merger. Arizona’s Corporation Commission recently approved the deal, albeit without a public hearing.