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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 8:42am

    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.

     

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      Chris in Utah (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:24am

      Re: 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)

       

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      DogBreath, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 3:27pm

      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.

       

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    John Doe, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 8:49am

    This smacks of corruption

    You just wrote about government corruption and you stated that Russia is worse than the US, then you write this. This guy has been paid by someone to make such stupid comments.

     

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      Atkray (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:09am

      Re: This smacks of corruption

      Ding we have a Winner!!

       

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      A Dan (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:12am

      Re: This smacks of corruption

      Obviously AT&T has promised to pay him in wireless internet for his support if this goes through. That's how he knows of what he speaks.

       

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        Jake, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re: 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.

         

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          Jay (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:57am

          Re: Re: Re: 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...

           

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        Trails (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re: This smacks of corruption

        We will give you 8 million packets!

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    So, this merger goes through, and all those wonderful things don't come to pass, we can all blame AT&T-and-his-other-brother-T?

    Is the educational system so dependent on corporations now? I thought teachers and taxes and parents and students were what made the education system work.

     

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      Danny, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:20am

      Re:

      Yeah lots of people think that. By the people for the people and all that. But truth be told just follow the money. Who has the money corporations or teachers, parents, students, and tax payers?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:01am

        Re: Re:

        Oh, I know. Though I must say, I and my thousands of neighbors pay those hefty school taxes every year, kids at home or not.

        But corps don't take the blame when results aren't as stellar as we'd like or expect.

         

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        AJBarnes, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re:

        Don't forget those ever popular Teacher's Unions -- out there fighting for less time in classrooms, less testing, less learning and more union dues.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    "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.

     

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      Ray S, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:12am

      Re:

      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.

       

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        Ray S (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re:

        sorry, I meant there not their

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re:

        "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.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          (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).

           

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        Jay (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:06am

        Re: Re:

        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.

         

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        Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re:

        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).

         

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        wnyght (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re:

        Well, i'm all against it! I have Tmobile right now and I have had At&T in the past. I choose Tmobile for their customer service. As soon as my contracts up, I'm bailing. I REFUSE to be a part of anything to do with AT&T. Not there home, wireless, internet, or tv service. That company is complete crap.

         

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          Jay (profile), Jun 15th, 2011 @ 5:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Where will you go?

          Verizon is expensive
          Sprint sucks...

          And everyone else is a knockoff of these three companies.

           

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            CommonSense (profile), Jun 15th, 2011 @ 7:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Sprint might be sub-par, but their prices reflect that. I'd rather support them so they can get their network up to par than pay one of the giants just so they can re-work their billing structure and figure out ways to charge me more...

             

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    If the merger does not go through . . .

    . . . then I guess high speed wireless will NOT be available to many Texans.

    Don't mess with Texas.

    Therefore, I guess the merger will go through.

    They brought up the subject of children. Still, they need to rewrite to somehow work in the subjects of terrorism and piracy.

     

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    Matthew Krum, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Coverage

    This is total BS. T-mobile's coverage map states that it already covers 99% of Texas with 3G high speed wireless data so why would this merger make it any better? By 1%? Whatever. Thankfully the comments on the article linked are so far against this guy & the merger.

     

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    CommonSense (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:06am

    A lie from the core...

    No child learning in Texas is learning to the best of their abilities regardless of what technology is available to them.

     

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      Killercool (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:21am

      Re: A lie from the core...

      [citation needed]

      Seriously, speaking as proud Houstonian, please enlighten me as to how you came up with that jewel. Just because we have accents doesn't make us idiots.

       

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        Chosen Reject (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

        Re: Re: A lie from the core...

        I'll second the guy. I have no idea what his reasons are, but my reason for seconding it runs thus: the education system in the US doesn't teach students to the best of their abilities, Texas is a part of that system, ergo Texas' education system doesn't teach students to the best of their abilities.

         

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        CommonSense (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

        Re: Re: 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.

         

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        Udjet, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

        Re: Re: 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

        That is all...

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: 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.

           

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    dcee (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    AT&T probably promised that guy some (maybe free?) upgrades in Texas if he says that.

     

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    rubberpants (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Tomorrow, a high-ranking TSA official will comment that approving this merger will most likely end the ban on liquids due to "awesomeness of business and just general goodness."

     

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    Ikarushka (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:38am

    There are much better arguments for merger. How about that for example:

    AT&T and T-Mobile merger will save tons of paint (hence natural resources) by eliminating one "T": AT&T-Mobile.




    (Hopefully no one noticed that AT&T could make this happen without this merger by reducing redundancy in its own trademark.)

     

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    Christopher Gizzi (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    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".

     

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    Actually, this is a perfectly sensible argument. If we pay people involved in education more they will perform better which will lead to better educational outcomes. If this merger goes through AT&T-T-Mobile will give this man a big paycheck for his support. Therefore, his performance will improve and so will educational outcomes. It's very clear.

     

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    atroon, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    I thought FTC stood for 'For the Children' ?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    But but but... PIRACY!!

    .. Oops. Wrong canned response.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2011 @ 4:36pm

    That sounds like a promise, can we write that into the terms of the merger and hit them with massive penalties if they don't make it happen?

     

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    toyotabedzrock (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 6:35pm

    They Have T-Mobile There?

    Does T-Mobile even offer service in the area this guy is from?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Hey Teacher, Leave those Mergers Alone.

     

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    Kate, Jun 15th, 2011 @ 4:52pm

    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.

     

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    AltonDrew (profile), Jun 15th, 2011 @ 5:25pm

    ATT/T-Mobile

    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.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 12:22am

      Re: ATT/T-Mobile

      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?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

        Re: Re: ATT/T-Mobile

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

        (crickets)

         

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