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Jim Cicconi
AT&T still isn't done badmouthing the FCC

Yesterday, T-Mobile made the decision to axe 1,900 workers in the U.S. Most of the layoffs will come from call centers located in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, and Oregon.
 
T-Mobile USA CEO and President Philipp Humm explained, "These are not easy steps to take — or, I know, to read. We must address our business realities so we can focus on getting T-Mobile back to growth."
 
AT&T, which has a serious axe to grind following the failure of its acquisition of T-Mobile, took the opportunity to kick some mud in the face of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Jim Cicconi, AT&T's Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, made it clear that had the merger gone through, the jobs at T-Mobile's call centers would have been preserved.
 
"Only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved," Cicconi chided. "We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs."
 
Cicconi didn't stop there, however. He continued his rant against the FCC and didn't hold back any punches:
 
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.
 
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.
 
It's understandable why AT&T is still fuming mad over the loss of T-Mobile. The company had to pay a $4 billion USD "breakup fee" when it decided to walk away from the table after the FCC made it clear that the acquisition wouldn't be approved. For its part, T-Mobile reported that it lost 700,000 customers in Q4 2011. Philipp blamed the lost of customers on its inability to obtain Apple's popular iPhone 4S for its network.

Sources: AT&T, T-Mobile



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Not Bloody Likely
By morphologia on 3/23/2012 4:42:04 PM , Rating: 5
AT&T is full of it. They would have fired those people anyway...all their callcenters are outsourced/3rd party, and they would not have "preserved" any real jobs when they could simply replace them with subcontracted drones. Anyone who has had to call AT&T's support knows full well that it's a roll of the dice whether you get a patient, competent person or a scripted phone jockey.




RE: Not Bloody Likely
By kb9fcc on 3/23/2012 5:16:54 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed. The retail stores would have been decimated also, as frequently there are T-mobile stores right next to AT&T stores here in the US.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By vol7ron on 3/24/2012 11:03:37 AM , Rating: 5
Right, sure T-Mobile lost 1900 jobs, but what about all the field technicians, service reps/managers, accountants, sales staff, brick-and-mortar employees, etc that would be lost had AT&T succeeded.

It was too easy for AT&T to play the "told ya so" card. Really, T-Mobile and Sprint need to merge.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By aebiv on 3/24/2012 2:34:49 PM , Rating: 4
Because it makes total sense for a CDMA/iDEN/WiMAX carrier to merge with a GSM carrier.

/sarcasm


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Solandri on 3/25/2012 1:23:13 AM , Rating: 3
Sprint was financially forced into an interesting position. To raise cash, they had to sell off a bunch of their CDMA towers, and license bandwidth off them from the new owners. While this was a negative from the standpoint of a static business, it helped make them technology-agnostic. In many areas, they provide the phone service, while leasing bandwidth on the towers. The type of tower (CDMA, iDEN, or GSM) wouldn't actually matter. And they already have experiencing managing two incompatible networks (CDMA and iDEN). So it wouldn't be inconceivable for them to merge with T-Mobile.

I'm of the opinion that this flexible type of arrangement is where the industry needs to go, and that the current state of carriers owning all three aspects of the business - the phones, the service, and the towers - is maintained only because of locking in customers via multi-year contracts. From a competitive standpoint, I think the optimal state would be for the phone manufacturers to sell the phones, the carriers to sell phone service (and provide loans for subsidized phones), and for tower owners to sell bandwidth to the carriers. You could pick the phone you liked best, the carrier with the plans you liked best, and they could pick the towers with the best service. No more having to compromise on what plan you get in order to have good service, or having to deal with lousy service just to get the phone you want.

If that truly is the direction the industry will go, then Sprint is the furthest along at present.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By mcnabney on 3/26/2012 9:48:10 AM , Rating: 2
Carriers don't own the phones. They may sell them, but you can activate almost any CDMA phone on Verizon and a hundred thousand iPhone owners have activated those jailbroken devices on T-mobile.

Now I like the idea of the same company owning both towers and switches. That is how networks become reliable. Changing from a roaming partner to an owned tower mid-call is a frequent cause of dropped calls. Imagine that happening every day instead of just on road trips into rural areas? There is also no guarantee of service feature compatibility since 3rd party tower owners generally don't keep their equipment up to date. Service would be terrible without carrier imposing their standards on the equipment that actually signals the phones. 3rd party tower owners don't install battery backups and generators too, so you can no longer expect service at all during power outages.

I agree on the exclusive handset contracts, but as we saw with iPhone - they can be critical to a carrier's marketing.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By RU482 on 3/26/2012 12:56:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because it makes total sense for a CDMA/iDEN/WiMAX carrier to merge with a GSM carrier.


iDEN and WiMAX are going away, from what I've read.

In regard to CDMA and GSM, will these eventually be replaced by LTE?


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By cbf on 3/27/2012 7:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I believe a Sprint/T-Mobile merger makes more sense than it might first appear. The merged entity would have to continue to operate both a CDMA and a GSM network side-by-side for many years (although there might be some cost-savings and/or improved coverage from consolidating tower locations). But they'd have to do that whether they merge or not

The biggest issue for Sprint and T-Mobile is financing an LTE build-out to match the Verizon and AT&T LTE build-outs. A merged entity would have a much larger customer base to amortize that over than each carrier trying to do it on their own.

The real problem with the merger would be figuring out how to take advantage of the different spectrum that Sprint & T-Mobile own in each market. To take full advantage of T-Mobile's AWS spectrum would require multi-band LTE handsets. Hopefully the phone manufacturers can handle that technically, but Apple alone could probably mess the whole thing up.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By BillyBatson on 3/24/2012 7:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
I refer you to aebiv's comment
Sprint and tmobile wouldn't work. It had to be AT&T.
They should have merged, I know tmobile is a stronger player on the east coast but here on the west coast it use to be the last choice when it came to picking a carrier and would only be chosen for its cheaper plans but now that MetroPCS is huge here for low cost contract-less no one even has tmobile anymore. It would have benefited AT&T customers for tmobile to be purchased.
I know you people care about jobs but it's a company trying to make money and I'm a customer trying to get the best service, and AT&T buying tmobile would have come closer to those goals


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By DeluxeTea on 3/25/2012 11:05:44 PM , Rating: 2
Nice try, Jim Cicconi.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/23/2012 5:40:05 PM , Rating: 1
With AT&T, I get snake eyes every time.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By secret man on 3/23/2012 5:41:00 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't ATT a publicly traded company? Are they still building cell sites for board members and their country club friends like Lahotan, Calif.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Motoman on 3/23/2012 6:57:35 PM , Rating: 4
Newsflash...combining companies isn't the way to keep lots of people employed. *Every* time companies merge, people get laid off. That's part of the reason why companies merge in the first place...

And especially since T-Mo got $4b from AT&T...not buying this crap from the AT&T guy.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By macjr82 on 3/23/2012 7:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
ATT has been reversing the outsourcing for a while. Here is an article from a call center they opened in 2008 as part of an initiative to stop outsourcing and create 5000 jobs.

ATT is a big corporation that looks out for the interests of it's business and investors but it is not inherently "evil" or as villainous as people make it out to be.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Reclaimer77 on 3/23/2012 8:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
This is only the start of it though. Without a merger T-Mobile will die. That's a guarantee. Saying the merger wouldn't save "any" jobs probably isn't being realistic either. How can you know that?

The truth is somewhere in the middle. But I have to say, being a longtime hater of the FCC and spirit-crushing regulatory agencies in general, I admire this guy giving them hell over it all the same.

If all of you people on here constantly hating on AT&T wanted to put your money where your mouth is, you would have switched to T-Mobile to prove them wrong. But since you wouldn't do that, for obvious and understandable reasons, I say let the market decide. Not big government.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Brazos on 3/23/2012 9:11:18 PM , Rating: 4
That's why I'm still with T-Mobile. Vote with your pocketbook.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Diablobo on 3/23/2012 9:27:48 PM , Rating: 5
If it were up to the market, we would have an even more monopolistic cell phone industry landscape than we already do, with the correspondingly higher prices, lower service, and lesser technology.
All that this free market versus big government talk signifies, is a decision to let unelected, corporate government, accountable only to the shareholders decide the policies and prices for an entire country, rather than elected, representative government accountable to the voters. How much are all these small, weak government idiots getting paid to sell us out to the corporations? They aren't going to pay us near enough to make up for the loss of services the government provides and we have to pay rent to the corporations for everything that we need.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Ringold on 3/24/2012 2:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
rather than elected, representative government accountable to the voters.


Lol, and history shows us government is incredibly good at innovation and growth, right?

There's one reason government needs to be involved in wireless and one reason only: natural barriers to entry for the market. Specifically, spectrum. It lends itself to a natural monopoly if left to its own market devices, and monopolies, just like the governments you seem to have an affinity for, are slow to innovate, slow to update, slow to respond to changing customer desires, etc. Forcing a minimum level of competition in wireless keeps the gears of enterprise turning as competitive pressures force them to keep moving on all fronts.

Further, shareholders are owners, and they do elect who they desire to manage their assets for them, no different then a family business may hire a manager for the family shop, etc. So, they're not unelected, you simply don't have direct say in something you don't own, which is how it should be, just as you have little say in what your neighbor does to his home, car, etc.

You started off in the right direction with your post, but went way too far to the left, blasting companies and seemingly raising governments, who have awful incentives and past behavior themselves, as somehow superior. I think the whole problem with liberals is the naive belief that government is benevolent.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Diablobo on 3/25/2012 6:33:32 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Lol, and history shows us government is incredibly good at innovation and growth, right?


Your ignorance and/or denial of the role that the U.S. government has played in the innovation and growth of infrastructure and technology is astonishing. Who do you think was the primary or sole funding and driving force behind most of what we have today and will in the future? Pharmaceuticals are mostly developed from research done at publicly funded universities, and in the past were almost exclusively researched by the military. Almost every transportation technology was developed by the military. The wiring of rural areas with electrical power lines and telephony was done by the government. The internet we are currently using right now was a Dept. of Defense project. Ever heard of DARPANET? Don't even mention all the spinoff tech from NASA.

If we don't have a say in a company that uses something that belongs to everyone (spectrum leased by the government) because we don't own a share in the company, then by that logic, only landowners should get to vote in political elections. They gave up trying that scam a long time ago. Maybe you should too.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Ringold on 3/25/2012 7:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm sorry but were you saying something?


Nah, thats all he's really got. He thinks contract law and property rights and the constitutional limits on government power are all out-dated concepts. Government should run it all, since India's license Raj did such a fantastic job growing India prior to the 90s, or the Soviet Union's incredible success.

Not to even mention Cuba or North Korea!


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Ringold on 3/25/2012 6:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Your ignorance and/or denial of the role that the U.S. government has played in the innovation and growth of infrastructure and technology is astonishing.


Derp derp derp.

Never said the government wasn't good at various sorts of research and development that the private sector isn't always capable of undertaking. You're putting words in my mouth, a favorite troll tactic when you've got a weak record to run on yourself. I mention companies providing goods and services, you mention DARPANET. Two entirely different sorts of things. Coming up with DARPANET isn't at all the same as rolling out an ISP in a metro area.

Again, go back to history (you know, the things that happened prior to Bill Clinton). Name some government owned and operated firms in the US that's not a natural monopoly that is world-beating in terms of competitiveness. Even look around the world; government-backed firms often do well thanks to subsidies, government-granted monopolies, etc. State-owned oil companies, with only a few exceptions like Statoil, aren't nearly as effective as their private-sector kin, often hiring Exxon and the like to tell them how they should be doing things. Over the long run, even the most successful state-owned enterprise in history, East India Company, collapses under its own weight and the inherent inefficiencies of mixing state and private sector powers and goals.

As for having a say in what is done with spectrum, again, you have no clue at all what you're talking about; like putting words in ones mouth, thats another plague of liberals like you. Auctions of public resources often come with contractual stipulations pertaining to its use, so the public does have its chance to control how it's used. If they don't live up to how they've agreed to use it, then the government is often within its rights to claw it back, be it spectrum or mineral rights or fisheries. Changing the terms after happily taking investors money is a violation of contract law, which lowers us to the level of communists, fascists and crony-capitalists, something most people have long understood to be a bad thing for an economy. Maybe liberals one day will understand that, too.

Tl;dr: Do you know anything about whats being debated, or you just winging it based on what Bill Maher told you?


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Diablobo on 3/26/12, Rating: 0
RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Nfarce on 3/26/12, Rating: 0
RE: Not Bloody Likely
By Koyanishi on 3/25/2012 8:29:38 PM , Rating: 1
without government regulation we would be back in the robber baron days when a strong corporation could become a monopoly that is very detrimental to the public good. That's why Teddy
Roosevelt started the break up of the bully corporations and instituted regulations to ensure that such monopolies not again occur.

Unfortunately reagan started the meme that "the government is the problem" and now americans and yourself included, apparently, have accepted this disastrous meme and now we have a government that represents the corporations rather than the people.

Which, by the way, is the reason reagan declared government the problem - that is government is the only entity that has power over the plutocrats and he was representing the plutocrats.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By nolisi on 3/26/2012 1:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If all of you people on here constantly hating on AT&T wanted to put your money where your mouth is, you would have switched to T-Mobile to prove them wrong.


I was with T-Mobile before the merger attempt, and am still with them now. I tried AT&T for two years and unless something extraordinary happens, have no desire to return.

quote:
I say let the market decide. Not big government.


If you allow the merger to go through, the majority of the market can't decide. Remember, those of us who hold accounts with T-Mobile are a bigger part of the market than AT&T's board of directors who want to see their stock value increase through a merger. But you cut out the ability for the majority of the market to truly make a decision if one company buys out another.

Effectively, it's not a "market" decision- it's a big business decision. Those of us account holders who have supported T-Mobile by giving our business to them were never consulted on this, therefore it does not constitute a market decision.

And given a choice between big business and big government making a decision- I'll take big government each time because there's at least the potential for me to control it with my vote.


RE: Not Bloody Likely
By retrospooty on 3/26/2012 11:26:39 AM , Rating: 2
"AT&T is full of it. They would have fired those people anyway...all their callcenters are outsourced/3rd party, and they would not have "preserved" any real jobs when they could simply replace them with subcontracted drones. "

Am I the only one noticing that lately, when looking at statements by companies that they sound alot like politicians? They skew facts, make half truths, or straight up lie to make themselves look better. ATT, Apple, Nvidia, RIMM and Sony in particular come to mind. Or is that just my list of the top asshat companies out there?


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