June 07, 2011, 5:04 PM — One thing you can be sure of when a corporation lobbies the federal government is that it's not doing so on behalf of consumers or for the good of the country.
So it is with the eight corporations led by Microsoft that sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission in support of AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom.
While the signatories -- Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle, RIM, Yahoo, Qualcomm, Brocade and Ayala -- avoided pointedly pretending they're only concerned about their beloved customers, they couldn't resist some flag-waving:
Despite the network challenges presented by the surging consumer demand, the United States must continue to lead in wireless broadband technologies. U.S. companies are at the forefront of driving innovations in devices, applications and services and an ever evolving wireless network is essential to realizing new and innovative offerings. An increasingly robust and efficient wireless network is part of a virtuous innovation cycle and a healthy wireless ecosystem is an important part of our global competitiveness.
It'd be quite inspiring if these corporations weren't so willing to trade off a future of diminished competition and a looming duopoly for the "near term" benefit of addressing rising consumer demand for more wireless broadband.
No one begrudges these companies wanting a better wireless infrastructure for their devices, apps and services. That's revenue to them.
But last I saw there was no national crisis regarding our wireless broadband capacity, despite the letter's sense of urgency. We're getting there, maybe slower than customers want.
Still, while an AT&T merger with T-Mobile might accelerate the infrastructure build-out, the potential cost of a duopoly (AT&T and Verizon) controlling more than 80 percent of the national U.S. wireless carrier market makes it a short-sighted tradeoff.
To me, one sentence in the letter's closing paragraph says it all: "The FCC must seriously weigh the benefits of this merger and approve it."
Just weigh the benefits! Never mind that "duopoly" thing. Sounds like some crazy app!
We need to do this. For the people.