Former SA Mayor Cisneros perpetuates AT&T megamerger falsehoods

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In a July 10 “Viewpoint” piece, former SA Mayor Henry Cisneros advocates giving Latinos tools to succeed. That’s a great idea. But Cisneros’s shilling for an AT&T/T-Mobile merger as a boon for Latinos strains his remaining credibility.

It’s understandable – though inexcusable – that AT&T would stretch the truth while seeking to eliminate competition from T-Mobile to raise prices and pad profits at the expense of former T-Mobile customers, nearly one-fourth of whom are the Latinos for whom Cisneros professes concern.

Less understandable is Cisneros’s uncritically repeating AT&T’s falsehoods on the deal’s purported benefits. He writes, “[T]he merger has the potential to bring high-speed service to an additional 55 million Americans,” but this is simply untrue.

AT&T already promised, with or without this transaction, to deploy “4G” broadband to 97% of the population by 2012. That’s the same proportion it claims the merger would allow it to serve. Meanwhile, Verizon plans to deploy its own 4G LTE network to that same percentage. Implying that the merger would bring high-speed service to people who’d otherwise go without it is irresponsible, at best.

He also writes about AT&T’s promise to spend an “additional $8 billion” on its network. But this ignores the loss of T-Mobile’s investments. As AT&T plainly tells investors, it will cut total spending by $10 billion after the merger.

This merger would mean higher prices with no real coverage benefits. AT&T’s false claims about it are bad enough. They sound even worse coming from people who purport to speak for our communities.

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