Dumb Arguments: AT&T – T-Mobile Merger Would Be Good For The Children

from the say-what-now? dept

In the typical push to get big mergers approved, we often see particularly dumb arguments. Sometimes these involve astroturfing attempts or lobbyists signing arguments for others (or sometimes forging the letters entirely). And then, sometimes, the companies just get people to push crazy arguments on the off chance that someone might believe them. Take, for example, this absolutely bizarre claim from the executive director of the Texas Rural Education Association, Don Rogers, that allowing AT&T to buy T-Mobile would be good for Texas schools:

The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile will be a giant stride toward providing ALL Texas children quality educational opportunities and experiences. Every Texas student, whether they attend school in inner-city Houston or in rural West Texas, should have access to modern technological advancements, including high-speed wireless Internet.

The resources made available by the merger would make high-speed wireless available to many Texans, both rural and urban. This is vitally important for schools in rural Texas that will finally have the ability to access a high-speed wireless broadband network and all it brings.

He doesn’t explain much further. He does explain the importance of wireless broadband, which is great, and we agree that there should be more of it, especially for schools. But what does allowing AT&T and T-Mobile to merge have to do with that at all? The real answer is nothing whatsoever. Nothing in the merger will make it any more or less likely that Texas schools will get mobile broadband. But, Rogers is sure of it:

I know of what I speak when I say that Texas–in particular our rural schools–will benefit substantially from this merger. To deny the educational opportunities this merger would provide to students living in rural areas would do our children a disservice. This merger will ensure that every young Texan will be learning and performing to the best of their abilities.

I know of what I speak when I say the above is pure hogwash. Whether or not you think the merger makes sense, it has nothing whatsoever to do with broadband in schools. And it certainly would not “ensure” that “every young Texan will be learning and performing to the best of their abilities.” It’s incredibly disingenuous for someone supposedly heavily involved in children’s education to suggest that some totally unrelated corporate merger will somehow “ensure” that kids are learning to the best of their abilities.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: at&t, t-mobile

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Dumb Arguments: AT&T – T-Mobile Merger Would Be Good For The Children”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

For the Children

Now that it has been said out loud, there is no way the FTC would rule against something that is “For the Children” that is how 90% of legislation is passed. The other 10% is “To stop terrorists” So when someone comes out saying that this merger will help fight terrorists, we know we have a 100% chance of it being approved.

DogBreath says:

Re: For the Children

I would like to see what would happen at the FTC if someone sent them a business merger proposal saying, “It’s for the terrorists children”. While pondering in an endless loop: “It would help terrorists… but it’s for the children…”, I bet a lot of heads at the FTC would explode that day.

Anonymous Coward says:

“He does explain the importance of wireless broadband”

Politicians often like to take something that (they think) most people consider bad and associate it with something that most people consider good in an effort to get people to approve that which they generally consider bad. Not that the two have anything to do with each other, it’s just an shallow attempt by unsophisticated politicians to confuse a hopefully unsuspecting public.

Ray S (profile) says:


It’s not as far fetched as this article makes it sound. 4G expansion as well as Uverse/DSL requires money. It’s impossible to improve infrastructure without it. Obviously, AT&T feels this will be a profitable venture and surely if approved, the FCC will require promises on their part. Improving infrastructure is ALWAYS in the mix. For further proof of this…see the SBC/Ameritech deal then go and check out the SBC/ATT deal. I’m all for it so long as it improves service/coverage and for as long as their is at least 1-2 other choices for the consumer.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

For the Children

In Fairness the terrorism thing, (ye know, with him that shall not be shown being horcruxed) was getting tired, the went back to an old stand-by, or rather the DOE toes were getting stepped on so they had to step it up and look useful. Like they did a short while ago on getting a warrant issued in a educat… i mean criminal case.

Because Homeland Securities’ objectives can be one with minds a loan. (ya, I’ve been thinking about that one for a week now)

Jake says:

This smacks of corruption

If AT&T and T-Mobile are promising to extend high-speed broadband coverage to less populated areas in return for the Association’s backing then Rogers should come out and say so; that sort of mutual back-scratching might be a bit unseemly, but it’s within the boundaries of what the FTC could reasonably demand as a condition of greenlighting the merger. Double-talk like the above statement suggests he’s merely taken a kickback.

Jay (profile) says:

This smacks of corruption

Before the deal has gone through, the prices on AT&T’s end have already gone up. PLUS, T-Mobile already has an unlimited internet plan. I see that flying out the window without any FCC oversight into why they need to look into this.

So higher prices, less infrastructure, no governmental oversight (at least none with any relevance), less consumer satisfaction, and more corporate shenanigans.

Gee, FCC, you really do a fine job in your practiced goal…

Anonymous Coward says:


“For further proof of this…see the SBC/Ameritech deal then go and check out the SBC/ATT deal. “

The U.S. used to be ahead of the rest of the world at one time when it came to things like broadband. Now we’re pretty much behind everyone else. I see no evidence that these mergers have helped us any, apparently they helped us fall behind the rest of the world.

Jay (profile) says:


But AT&T has held *back* on improving its infrastructure at least for the past 3 years. A promise is a far cry from controlling the market, which AT&T has been doing. Somehow, since 2006, AT&T has lobbied the government for control of wire lines. Now that AT&T has it, AT&T isn’t keeping its part of the bargain. Improve service. It’s coasting. The only actual threat to AT&T right now from my observations are Google (Link), and competition Link. That’s not happening.

I can’t defend this deal. It’s effectively bringing back the Ma Bells, worse than before.

Anonymous Coward says:


(I’m not saying I’m against the merger, but the FCC is very lenient on what kinds of promises they require and these corporations have a long history of constantly extending the fulfillment deadline and not following through with their end of the deal, or by the time it has been followed through, the rest of the world has long surpassed us because of our lack of competition and the promise itself is obsolete).

Christopher Gizzi (profile) says:

Won't somebody think of the children??

When ever someone drags in kids into political arguments, I’m always reminded of The Simpsons character, Helen Lovejoy who cries out when something bad is happening in town – no matter how small or profound.

She’s the parody of these types of arguments and, because I always think of those clips, I immediately discount whatever is said “for the children”.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:


4G expansion as well as Uverse/DSL requires money. It’s impossible to improve infrastructure without it.

The $39 billion they’re paying for T-Mobile is money.

The $1.3 billion in straight cash that they’re sitting on is money.

I’m all for it so long as it improves service/coverage and for as long as their is at least 1-2 other choices for the consumer.

Historically, similar mergers which limit consumer choice have lessened quality of service and increased price. If this goes through, there’s only 2 choices left, and Sprint is more like 3/4ths since there are some areas their coverage is pretty poor – and if Verizon wants to compete, they’ve almost gotta buy Sprint out (that’d be an ugly merger for all sorts of reasons).

CommonSense (profile) says:

A lie from the core...

I like Texan accents… I don’t even think the accent makes you sound stupid… What is it about the accent that makes you think it’s why people feel the way they do??

My reasoning is thus: U.S. Education is sub-par in my opinion, and that’s being nice. Education in Rural U.S. is SUB-sub-par, and a large portion of Texas is rural, is it not?

Couple that with the stories we hear about textbook decisions that make Texas look dumb, and I think I’ve got a pretty decent theory.

As a proud Houstonian, you’re far from the dumbest TX has to offer, but please don’t think I’m taking a shot at the citizens of your proud state as much as I am just the education system.

Anonymous Coward says:

A lie from the core...

I have to step in here. I’ve been living in Texas for the past 8 years and can say without a doubt that a majority of Texans are in fact idiots.

Here’s the best proof: Rick Perry

As a multi-generational Texas native, I can say that Texas was generally a Democrat state until it was invaded by Republicans from other states.

Kate (profile) says:

AT&T/T-Mobile merger

This merger stinks! I was so relieved eight years ago when I finally got rid of AT&T and switched to T-Mobile and now I am going to wind up w/ those idiots being my cell phone company again. Or actually, I am not going to wind up w/ them again because I would sooner french kiss a skunk than be AT&T’s victim again. I will have to switch to Verizon or Sprint, which really stinks because if Verizon does buy Sprint, I really will be left w/ just one choice.

AltonDrew (profile) says:


It’s interesting that the author, while eloquently stating that he does not agree with Mr. Rogers’ position, did not extend that eloquence to explaining why it’s technically impossible for Texas school children to benefit from a transfer of spectrum licenses to AT&T from T-Mobile USA. Licenses that may be of less benefit to a T-Mobile USA that expects no financial support from its parent, Deutsche Telekom. Licences from a T-Mobile USA that can’t be leveraged to build an advanced 4G network because the company may not have the financial wherewithal to do build one.

By obtaining those licenses, AT&T puts itself in a position to provide a wireless alternative for connecting schools to the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:


From http://www.altondrew.com/
Alton Drew is an independent public policy and political analysis firm that provides investors, traders, equity analysts, and investment bankers with insight on how legal, political, and public policy events may shape the markets in general and the broadband and media industries in particular.

In addition, we advocate in favor of free market solutions versus regulatory initiatives.

I take it then that you’re in favor of the elimination of telecom spectrum licensing and opening it up as unlicensed spectrum instead?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...