Public interest groups say AT&T interested in 'expanding their bad service at high prices'

The post cites support from organized labor, expected to be crucial to winning Democratic support.

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"The bottom line is that the combined company will be able to offer more output and higher quality service — and that’s a good thing for consumers even if our competitors don’t like it," said AT&T vice president for federal regulatory affairs Joan Marsh.

"In the end, opponents’ submissions are long on rhetoric and short on substance."

The public interest groups claim AT&T has previously resisted investing to improve capacity and deploy next generation wireless networks as competitor Verizon Wireless has done.

The groups argue AT&T shouldn't be rewarded by attaching its willingness to build out its network to the government's approval of the merger.

" 'Maximizing AT&T's wealth' is not, and never has been, a public interest benefit justifying any merger, much less a legally cognizable merger-efficiency that could justify increasing concentration in an already highly-concentrated industry," the groups state.

The filing also notes that under-served groups such as minorities and rural residents tend to rely on wireless broadband service to an even greater degree, and argue that their public interest should trump AT&T's interest "in expanding their bad service at high prices at the expense of competition."

The groups note AT&T will not offer T-Mobile's service plans to AT&T customers but will simply honor existing contracts until they expire or customers request an upgrade.

They ask the commission to deny the merger, referring to the telecom giant as a "well-chronicled price hiker and strong-arm tactician."