from the New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
Albuquerque, AZ – It all comes down to price increases, jobs and consumer choice in New Mexico. That's one take on the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile - while others say it could lead to better prices and more jobs. It's estimated the merger would control 80 percent of the state's cell phone market, and could affect the 2,000-plus T-Mobile jobs in the state.
Prices, competition and jobs are three factors to 'ring up' when considering how the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile will impact New Mexico. Andrea Quijada with New Mexico's Media Literacy Project makes that case, saying the combined companies would control 80-percent of the wireless market – likely leading to higher prices. T-Mobile is also a significant New Mexico employer. About 17-hundred work at two call centers and hundreds more are employed on the retail side. Quijada points to AT&T's history of shedding 200,000 jobs over ten years, saying "With that kind of track record, we have a legitimate concern for the more over 2,000 T-Mobile jobs and T-Mobile employees in New Mexico."
Officials in California, Louisiana, and New York have launched investigations into the possible anti-competitive impacts of the merger. Support for the merger comes from Microsoft, AFL-CIO and Communications Workers of America.
Consumer Reports found that T-Mobile charges less than many competitors for several of its calling plans. After the merger, Amalia Deloney with the Center for Media Justice expects T-Mobile's rates to rise to match AT&T and other major carriers, "Not only will the prices for T-Mobile customers go up on average somewhere between 30 and 50 dollars a month, but the ability for AT&T to set a price point that's well beyond what people can afford is, you know, completely possible."
The FCC is expected to announce a decision on the merger sometime this year.
While the FCC is no longer accepting public comments, Andrea Quijada says Congress and other elected leaders can still exert pressure on the agency's consideration, and she says state residents should continue asking questions, "New Mexicans cannot suffer a blow to our state economy in order to pad AT&T's bottom line. People are already shuffling their budgets, and this merger could put even more pressure on familoies to have to cut back, or cut communications entirely out of their budget."
Deborah Smith reporting, firstname.lastname@example.org