AT&T Official Says Merger Would Help Rural Areas

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An AT&T official says the company’s proposed merger with T-Mobile USA would improve technology in rural areas of the upper Midwest, but some residents and lawmakers remain skeptical.

AT&T’s proposed $39 million purchase of T-Mobile has been criticized by some who say it would limit wireless competition, and federal antitrust clearance is not certain. Federal regulators are expected to spend a year or more scrutinizing the deal between two of the four largest wireless carriers.

Regional vice president Beth Canuteson told The Forum newspaper that if the deal goes through it would help AT&T expand its high-speed data network in less-populated areas.

“It’s where this merger would be especially impactful,” she said of rural states, such as the Dakotas. Canuteson has been traveling to cities including Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D., to make her pitch.

The broader data reach the communications giant is promising would include near-blanket 4G, or fourth generation, wireless coverage in North Dakota and west central Minnesota, based on AT&T maps, The Forum reported. In North Dakota, an AT&T data network would be a counterbalance to Verizon, said Andy Peterson, president and chief executive officer of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.

“We’d like someone to equal Verizon’s size,” he said. “It would be nice for businesses to have a choice.”

Some believe a merger would give AT&T and Verizon, the top two carriers, too much of the wireless market.

“A merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would not benefit anyone except for AT&T,” Derek Collins, a Grand Forks resident, wrote in comments to the Federal Communications Commission.

Congress is holding hearings on the merger. The first is scheduled for Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, which includes Minnesota’s Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. Both have expressed skepticism about the T-Mobile acquisition. Franken, in a statement, said he fears the merger will be a “raw deal” for customers, driving up rates and reducing choice.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Morgen

    My advise to the CEO of T-Mobile is not to accept the proposal. Your company’s business is doing fine without AT&T, so don’t bother. In the meantime, just keep a good work to the customers.

  • stace34

    I believe that it will limit competition. We think we pay high cell bills now, Imagine when all the power is concentrated even more. They can expand their high speed network through partnerships. The only reason for merger is more power and less choice for consumers

    • griley

      In addition, T-Mobile offers some unlimited plans that will disappear with AT&T. They trend towards tiered plans and to not use unlimited plans.

  • phylls

    dont think it should be let T-Mobile be by themselves, plus work on their customer service because now it takes over 30 minutes to contract anyone to talk to them.,

  • hmm

    T-mobile has a nice setup where you can buy a phone outright so you aren’t stuck in a 2 year contract and then you get a cheaper monthly bill. Say goodbye to that when this goes through. The only thing that will come of this is higher prices. Why can’t the two companies separately mean better rural coverage? What does having them combined do that separately they cannot?

  • Tourman

    Contrary to what Morgan thinks, Yahoo news (and others) posted news last week that T-Mobile is NOT doing well. “T-Mobile USA lost a record number of subscribers in the first three months of the year, posing a conundrum for regulators as they look at whether to let AT&T Inc. buy the smaller carrier for $39 billion.” The handwriting is on the wall, folks. It’s what the marketplace does.

  • Bill

    It is not $39 million it is $39 billion..atleast do some prrof reading before publishing

    • Chris

      I was just about to say….guys, it’s billion not million.

  • leo

    i think t-mobile should take care of the people they have and if they would quit paying the ceo of their company, they would have money to invest in their company. At&t has their own problem with customer care so maybe both can go under some day. both companies have issues and one buying out the other will not solve their issue. If they have that kind of monies to buy out another just use that to add towers and let t-mob drown in their oun debt.

  • local girl

    A lot of cell towers have more than one providers equipment on them. How much more will T-Mobile rates go up if at&t decides not to share tower space with anyone else?

  • local girl

    or vice-versa?

  • MNwokrer

    No more freedome choice…Is anyone our gov say anything?

  • zee the reporter

    Hope this deal does Not go through at&t is a monster thay will take over everything! zee having to report!

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