WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), the nation’s leading telecommunications-focused consumer education and advocacy organization, today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Congress to use the coming review of the proposed AT&T-BellSouth merger agreement as an opportunity to reexamine the nation’s telecommunications policy. In light of this development, the FCC and DOJ should develop a clearer understanding of the emerging trends in the telecommunications market. Congress should use the continued consolidation of the telecommunications industry as a basis for its reevaluation of the nation’s telecommunications laws.
“Congress and regulatory agencies need to ensure that there will be adequate consumer protections at all levels and effective competition in all telecommunications markets,” said John Breyault, TRAC’s Research Associate. “Appropriate regulation will be needed where effective competition does not exist.”
In particular, TRAC urges that the government’s review of the proposed merger focus on the following consumer protection issues:
- Ensure that all markets are and will be reasonably competitive for residential consumer services;
- Examine AT&T’s market position with respect to video, data, equipment, and other vertical and horizontal markets;
- Determine AT&T’s financial commitment to delivering true broadband to all consumers; and
- Extract the necessary public interest commitments to ensure that consumers will be able to fully understand their options and rights in a more consolidated industry.
“We had hoped that BellSouth would unite with Qwest, Sprint, or another national entity in order to create a third national competitor for telecommunications services,” said Breyault. “Should the merger be approved by the government, consumers should remember to pay special attention to their monthly bills, as errors are a common occurrence when large companies combine their billing systems.”
John Breyault, TRAC, johnb AT trac.org, 202-263-2943
The Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), founded in 1983, is a non-profit membership organization based in Washington, DC that promotes the interests of residential telecommunications customers. TRAC staff researches telecommunications issues and publishes rate comparisons to help consumers make informed decisions regarding their long distance and local phone service options. TRAC can be found on the web at http://www.trac.org.