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AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Questions about NM Cell Bills and Jobs

June 24, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - 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.

The combined companies would control 80 percent of the wireless market, and Andrea Quijada, executive director of New Mexico's Media Literacy Project, says that likely would lead to higher prices.

T-Mobile also is a significant New Mexico employer. About 1,700 people 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 in 10 years...

"With that kind of track record, we have a legitimate concern for the more than 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, the 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, grassroots policy director for 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 a month, but the ability for AT&T to set a price point that's well beyond what people can afford is completely possible."

While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is no longer accepting public comments, Quijada says Congress and other elected leaders still can exert pressure on the agency's consideration. 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 families to have to cut back, or cut communications entirely out of their budget."

The FCC is expected to announce a decision on the merger sometime this year.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - NM