On Monday, 88 people filed comments with the FCC on AT&T’s buyout of T-Mobile USA.
On Tuesday, 92 people filed comments on the deal.
Then things started to escalate. On Wednesday, 4,397 comments were filed on the merger, and by Thursday the FCC was inundated with comments from more than 10,000 people opposed to the merger.
The skyrocketing number of comments filed with the FCC about AT&T’s massive $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile can be largely attributed to the efforts of media reform group Free Press.
On Wednesday, Free Press’ Save the Internet campaign launched a website that made it easier for people to send their comments about the merger to the FCC. The FCC has its own commenting system, but it is more complicated than the interface set up by Free Press.
“Since the tools the FCC provides can be confusing, we’ve created a more user-friendly Web interface that allows them to comment as easily as possible,” says Free Press campaign manager Timothy Karr.
About 15,000 people are already estimated to have used the website to voice their opposition to the deal. People can use Free Press’ standard statement or enter comments of their own. The FCC has said it will read all comments filed about the merger.
The website quickly gained traction on Facebook and Twitter, and a Huffington Post blog penned by Karr about the deal also helped to drive traffic to the site.
The website was launched less than a week ahead of the FCC’s May 31 deadline for comments opposed to AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile. Free Press sent out an e-mail to about 275,000 people providing information about the merger and a link to its website, where people can file comments with the FCC. The group has a list of more than 500,000 activists interested in the issue.
Free Press has been a vocal opponent to AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile, calling the merger “a raw deal for consumers, for competition and for American innovation.” AT&T says the merger is necessary for it to meet growing demand for mobile broadband, and has pledged to expand its LTE network to an additional 55 million Americans if regulators approve the deal.
The FCC is in the midst of its review of AT&T’s buyout of T-Mobile. The agency will look at whether the deal is in the best interest of consumers, and will consider comments filed about the merger.
Once next week’s deadline for comments opposing the transaction passes, the agency will accept comments on why the deal should pass until June 10, with another deadline for replies to those comments slated for June 20. Stakeholders who want to file comments with the agency about the deal should refer to docket 11-65.
The Department of Justice is also reviewing the deal.