AT&T Merger Concessions Send Strong Message to Congress: Protect Internet Freedom

Media Contacts
Brad Ashwell

Florida PIRG

Washington – Late Thursday night AT&T officials filed a letter of commitment to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declaring their intent to follow Net Neutrality provisions and to offer unbundled and discounted DSL service in return for the approval of their $85 billion dollar merger with Bell South. 

If completed, the $85 billion dollar merger will span 22 states making the new AT&T an even bigger telecommunications giant.  We applaud FCC Commissioners Adelstein and Copps for stepping in to protect American consumers from the AT&T goliath. These Commissioners recognize that our media landscape is changing and that traditional phone providers like AT&T hold networks that provide much more than telephone service.  They own the connection between millions of Americans and the Internet, voice and video service.

The 110th Congress has now been given a strong signal – they must seriously scrutinize these mega mergers through an updated antitrust lens and work to permanently ensure that all American small business owners, entrepreneurs and citizens have fair and equal access to the Internet. As we move farther into the digital age, it is crucial that government understand the multi-faceted value of telecommunications networks and enact measures to deliver true and robust competition in the industry.

AT&T’s offer to discount unbundled DSL service means that for a brief window consumers will have the opportunity to access high speed Internet for less but will also have the unfettered ability to switch to a new competitor if they desire. It is now up to Congress to extend the window for Internet access competition and push for the expansion of an affordable and democratic Internet for every American.