AT&T has proven many times in the last few months that it just can’t let its failed acquisition of T-Mobile go, but on Friday the bitterness turned to vindictiveness. This statement from Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior EVP of External and Legislative Affairs, was posted on AT&T’s policy blog in the morning:
Yesterday, T-Mobile made the sad announcement that it would be closing seven call centers, laying off thousands of workers, and that more layoff announcements may follow. Normally, we’d not comment on something like this. But I feel this is an exception for one big reason– only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved. We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs.
“At that time, the current FCC not only rejected our pledges and predictions, they also questioned our credibility. The FCC argued that the merger would cost jobs, not preserve them, and that rejecting it would save jobs. In short, the FCC said they were right, we were wrong, and did so in an aggressive and adamant way.
“Rarely are a regulatory agency’s predictive judgments proven so wrong so fast. But for the government’s decision, centers now being closed would be staying open, workers now facing layoffs would have job guarantees, and communities facing turmoil would have security. Only a few months later, the truth of who was right is sadly obvious.
“So what’s the lesson here? For one thing, it’s a reminder of why “regulatory humility” should be more than a slogan. The FCC may consider itself an expert agency on telecom, but it is not omniscient. And when it ventures far afield from technical issues, and into judgments about employment or predictions about business decisions, it has often been wildly wrong. The other lesson is even more important, and should be sobering. It is a reminder that in government, as in life, decisions have consequences. One must approach them not as an exercise of power but instead of responsibility, because, as I learned in my years of public service, the price of a bad decision is too often paid by someone else.”
So what is AT&T trying to prove here? That T-Mobile is a struggling company? Of course it is. It wouldn’t have tried to sell out to Ma Bell if its profits were surging and its customer base were booming. But is AT&T actually implying it would kept all 24 of T-Mobile’s call centers open in the face of enormous redundancies?
For AT&T to continue to maintain the fiction that it would somehow of created more jobs if it acquired T-Mobile is ridiculous now that the merger is dead. The Federal Communications Commission; the U.S. Department of Justice; and numerous industry, public policy and consumer groups have all refuted those claims, accusing AT&T of simply making up numbers in a lousy economy to further its consolidation ambitions.
AT&T, it’s time to move on.