With friends like these, who needs enemies?
This should be a grave concern for anyone interested in the freedom of speech and net neutrality. Any company that has a major control of the American telecommunications market has too great of an opportunity to abuse the consumer.
AT&T’s past isn’t very rosy when it comes to abusing the public trust, and considering they are one of the largest donors to the anti-gay Republican Tea Party, we’re left wondering why two of the largest LGBT lobby groups would endorse this deal.
Considering the motto of GLADD is to “amplify LGBT voices” this merger would add static noise to our voices or obliterate them all together.
John Aravosis over at Americablog thinks it’s a crappy move too since AT&T sits on the board of the organization that pushed to repeal gay and trans rights ordinances in Tennessee.
Why did they really endorse this? In the past, they haven’t taken any stand on these types of controversial mergers (they sent a letter of concern over the Comcast/NBCU merger but never supported it.) What’s going on here? Is this a hoax?
Rich Ferraro, Director of Communications of GLAAD told us:
“GLAAD signed on to this letter with the understanding that this merger will increase functionality and speed, thus growing engagement and improving the effectiveness of online advocacy work. GLAAD has repeatedly spoken out and demanded action from corporate sponsors including CNN, NBC, MTV and ABC when they engage in anti-LGBT defamation and will continue to do so.”
Here’s the letter-
The Honorable Julius Genachowski Chairman, Federal Communications Commission 445 12th Street, SW Washington, D.C. 20554
Re: Proceeding 11-65 involving the AT&T merger with T-Mobile
Dear Chairman Genachowski and FCC Commissioners:
We write to you as leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities who have come together to urge support for the AT&T-T-Mobile merger. Ours is a diverse community. LGBT Americans live in every town and city in our nation. During the past generation, we have grown more visible in our communities and have stepped forward to lead in many new areas – business, politics, education, the arts, philanthropy to name only a few.
In short, the LGBT community is a mirror of America’s larger society and it is through that prism that we view this proposed merger. What our community wants in wireless phone and Internet service is exactly what Americans in general want: more access, faster service, and competitive pricing. On all three counts, we believe that the facts strongly favor the merger.
First, there is the need to expand access so that each of us can have affordable, effective means of communication. As representatives of communities that historically have felt the sting of discrimination, we are acutely sensitive when certain segments of our nation are not able to participate fully in something that the majority takes for granted. We salute President Obama’s vision of an America in which everyone has high-speed access capable of meeting the demands of distance learning and telehealth programs.
From both financial and technological perspectives, the optimal way to reach the President’s goal involves dramatically expanding 4G/LTE and 4G/WiMAX options. This takes a significant commitment of capital and it is worth noting that T-Mobile’s parent company has never announced plans for 4G/LTE or 4G/WiMAX deployment. AT&T’s written pledge to commit up to $8 billion in new deployment expenditures offers the best, most obvious option to reach the President’s goal.
The LGBT community has a longstanding commitment to all forms of social justice. That is why we look at the deployment of faster wireless Internet options not only from financial and technological viewpoints but also in terms of how this improves society. For example, better wireless technology promises new home healthcare options that
improve the lives of those for whom a trip to a doctor’s office is a major and expensive effort. Wireless healthcare also promises better monitoring of vital signs and even in- home safety. With the cost to taxpayers of assisted living at $200 a day or more, the possibility that new wireless healthcare systems could prolong independent living is a major societal benefit.
We see similar benefits accruing to the arts, as new wireless networks give people newfound abilities to stream videos and enjoy music. At a time when budgets for even the most prominent productions are tight, the expansion of high-speed wireless access holds great promise for those organizations’ efforts reach new audiences and supporters. It also gives those viewers an ability to react to the media and the messages being communicated: increasingly our community—like others—is expressing itself through mobile technologies. Improved wireless service means increased participation.
In sum, we believe that the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger will serve the public interest in multiple ways. If approved, it will expand the availability of true high-speed access to millions of Americans who do not currently have it. This new deployment also holds the promise of dramatic improvements in healthcare, education, the arts and the overall economy.
Thank you for your consideration of this letter and for keeping in mind the voices in the LGBT community as you consider, and hopefully approve, this merger.
Jarrett Barrios President Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
Justin Nelson President & Co-Founder National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)