Nine Republican governors and one Democrat governor have voiced their support for AT&T’s $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile USA, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in testimony today before the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.
Stephenson’s testimony marks the first time Idaho Governor Butch Otter (R) and Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) have come out in support of the merger, and the lawmakers are expected to soon file documents with the FCC stating their support for the deal.
Governors Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana); Mike Beebe (D-Ark.); Nathan Deal (R – Ga.); Rick Snyder (R-Mich.); Paul LePage (R-Maine); Mary Fallin (R-Okla.); and Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) have already filed paperwork with the FCC asking the agency to approve the merger.
Stephenson argued that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile would ultimately benefit consumers by allowing the company to increase the capacity of its network and expand its LTE network to an additional 55 million U.S. residents.
“You know as well as I the benefits this kind of deployment will bring to small towns and rural communities in education, health care and economic development,” Stephenson said in prepared remarks.
AT&T’s pledge to expand mobile broadband service into rural communities has been particularly appealing to states with large populations in remote areas without adequate access to high-speed Internet service.
“Our state is a sea of small towns and rural communities, with islands of population and commerce in Upstate, Midlands and Lowcountry,” South Carolina Governor Haley said in her letter to the FCC in support of AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile. “For the vast majority of our residents, this expanded investment in mobile broadband is a game-changer.”
The other governors filing their support with the FCC made similar comments, citing the lack of Internet access to many of their rural constituents.