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The Department of Justice this week approved the mammoth $78 billion merger of AT&T and BellSouth without placing any conditions on the deal. The issue now moves to the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to take up the issue on Friday, October 12. Given AT&T’s history of raising the rates and fees it charges its long distance subscribers residing outside the old 13-state SBC local service region, TRAC would like AT&T to commit to a moratorium on long distance rate and fee increases as a condition any FCC approval of the deal. “AT&T has taken advantage of its legacy out-of-region long distance subscribers for long enough,” said TRAC founder and chairman Samuel A. Simon. “We urge the FCC to offer some relief to these long-suffering consumers by placing meaningful preconditions on an eventual merger approval.” Despite increased competition from wireless devices and third-party and cable VoIP services, local and long distance cost increases for consumers have far outpaced the rate of inflation over the last several years. “If the FCC is going to allow a dominant industry player to grow even more, it should get meaningful commitments from AT&T to ensure that consumers can continue to afford basic local and long distance phone service,” said Simon.
Source: Telecommunications Research and Action Center. http://www.trac.org