AT&T calls out FCC after T-Mobile USA layoffs

AT&T rails on the FCC for not heeding its predictions about T-Mobile being forced into major layoffs without approval of the merger.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Just one day after T-Mobile USA announced that it was cutting 1,900 jobs from seven call centers, AT&T is calling out the Federal Communications Commission.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president of External and Legislative Affairs, wrote a memo on the AT&T Public Policy blog on Friday detailing the company's stance, which basically rails on the FCC for not approving the $39 proposed bid for the merger.

Considering that the acquisition never came to pass, it might seem a bit strange that AT&T is getting involved. Nevertheless, Cicconi argued that "only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved."

Cicconi added that AT&T already predicted that T-Mobile, the nation's fourth largest mobile provider, would have to deal with a significant number of layoffs.

Cicconi continued:

Rarely are a regulatory agency’s predictive judgments proven so wrong so fast. But for the government’s decision, centers now being closed would be staying open, workers now facing layoffs would have job guarantees, and communities facing turmoil would have security. Only a few months later, the truth of who was right is sadly obvious.

So what’s the lesson here? For one thing, it’s a reminder of why “regulatory humility” should be more than a slogan. The FCC may consider itself an expert agency on telecom, but it is not omniscient. And when it ventures far afield from technical issues, and into judgments about employment or predictions about business decisions, it has often been wildly wrong.

Sounds a bit bitter, but perhaps AT&T is right here. Then again, how many layoffs would have taken place at other telecommunications companies, such as Sprint and regional carriers opposed to the bid, if AT&T was able to combine forces with T-Mobile?


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