Media reform group Free Press sent a letter urging Democratic lawmakers to reconsider their position on the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile based on information revealed in an accidentally unredacted file uploaded to the Internet last week.
The file, an AT&T letter, revealed that the company estimates rolling out LTE to 97 percent of the county will cost $3.8 billion. The file, which was uploaded to the FCC docket without first being redacted for public view, has since been removed and resubmitted with the redactions in place.
Free Press said that this is a figure the company calculated before its proposed $39 billion merger with T-Mobile and invalidates the company’s claim that the deal will help rural America by making it viable to roll out the high-speed broadband to more of the country.
AT&T says that the $3.8 billion figure was calculated after the merger and that synergies between the two companies have brought down the cost of the rollout.
Claudia Jones, AT&T Vice President of Public Affairs and Media Relations said in a statement that this filing is completely consistent with prior AT&T filings.
“It makes clear the dramatic scale of our commitment to bring 4G LTE mobile broadband to 97 oercent of all Americans. Simply put, AT&T would not be able to deliver 4G LTE to 55 million more Americans without this merger. To argue otherwise is false and absurd.”
The advocacy group sent its plea to several members of Congress who signed on to a June 24 letter supporting the merger because of its promise to deploy high-speed wireless to rural America.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C), who led more than 70 House Democrats in signing that letter, has seen the Free Press statement and said he will stand by his original sentiments and the comments he made to the FCC, said Butterfield staff member Lee Lilley.
Jones also said that Free Press is twisting the facts and that its opinions should not carry weight with lawmakers.