African American Coalition Announces Support of AT&T-T-Mobile Merger
Optimistic That Deal Will Bring Economic Opportunity, Jobs, and Increased Access to Vital Services
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A national coalition representing the nation's leading African American organizations filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission today in support of AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA. In its federal filing, the coalition argued that a completed deal would provide African Americans enhanced access to the most technologically advanced tools available to more effectively compete for business opportunities and better jobs. While the African American community continues to face unemployment rates higher than the national average, limited access to quality health care, near second class educational opportunities, and inconsistent access to the fastest wireless Internet connections – despite high usage rates – this merger could be the antidote to several community challenges.
"AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile has the potential to benefit consumers, communities and workers alike. AT&T has been among the highest ranked in the telecommunications industry for its commitment to diversity in terms of procurement, philanthropy, promotion and hiring at the federal, state and local levels," NAACP Senior Vice President Hilary Shelton said. "Wireless broadband is an integral tool in promoting civic engagement and as such is crucial to voter empowerment. We are hopeful that this acquisition will further advance increased access to affordable and sustainable wireless broadband services and in turn stimulate job creation throughout our country."
Sharon Weston Broome, Chairwoman, NOBEL Women was one of leading intergovernmental organizations that pledged their support. Collectively, the signatory groups represent the approximately 40 million African Americans in the United States.
A recent study by the Pew Research Institute shows that roughly 90 percent of African Americans own a cell phone and more than 60 percent are wireless Internet users. Despite being at the technological forefront, however, many African American users frequently contend with substandard and inconsistent access on congested urban wireless networks or limited offerings in rural areas.
In the FCC filing, the coalition also commended AT&T's demonstrated commitment to maintaining a diverse workforce and supplier base. Minority-owned firms make up 20 percent of the company's suppliers and nearly 40 percent of AT&T employees are people of color. The coalition also noted in the FCC support letter the likelihood for increased investments after the proposed merger could provide the African American community with more educational opportunities, expanded healthcare services via telemedicine, enhanced business and employment opportunities.
"The merger of AT&T and T-Mobile will mean more diplomas, better jobs and healthier African American families," National Coalition of Black Civic Participation's President and CEO Melanie L. Campbell said. "A combined AT&T-T-Mobile also will help achieve the Federal Government's goal that our organizations share: 'Connecting every part of America to the digital age.'"
SOURCE National Coalition on Black Civic Participation