While net neutrality advocates and small telecomm companies beg the Federal Communications Commission to stop the AT&T-T-Mobile merger from going ahead, a bunch of big names in the tech industry have just signaled their approval of the deal, according to the New York Times.
In a letter signed by Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle, RIM, Yahoo and others, the tech companies expressed their support for the idea that the merger will let AT&T build out its high-speed data networks across the country more quickly.
"Many policy related efforts will not be able to quickly address near term capacity needs," the letter said. "The FCC must seriously weigh the benefits of this merger and approve it. Such action will help to meet the near term wireless broadband needs of consumers and ensure that we are globally competitive as the world increasingly embraces wireless broadband connectivity."
The letter's contents are a far cry from some of the negative testimony heard last month at a Senate hearing discussing the pros and cons of the merger.
Sprint CEO Daniel Hesse said that the deal would put his company in a position "to be acquired," by making it more difficult for the company to compete, and eventually lead to a duopoly in telecommunications. Consumer advocates predicted that a merger would lead to higher prices and less options for users. And more than one person expressed doubt that AT&T would actually utilize extra spectrum obtained in a deal to build out a better network, highlighting the company's pre-existing supply of spectrum, and inability to build on it.
“Forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical,” Senator Leahy said. "Given past promises.”
Microsoft led the group of eight tech companies and 10 venture capital firms signing the letter, approaching companies it believed would desire the data expansion the deal suggests. AT&T and T-Mobile are the first two wireless countries in the U.S. to have offered the Windows Phone 7, though Sprint and Verizon followed afterwards. Missing from the list of letter writers are Apple and Google.
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