WASHINGTON — A coalition of advocacy groups, including the NAACP and NNPA, have encouraged the
Federal Communications Commission to approve AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA, saying the merger is in the
best interests of millions of African Americans.
The coalition told the FCC that the AT&T/T-Mobile deal will bring wireless Internet access to areas now lacking
broadband, will save users money and will create new jobs nationwide.
“The merger of AT&T with T-Mobile USA stands to bring some much-needed relief to the African American
community by helping to close the digital divide and increasing access to vital services in urban and rural
communities,” wrote Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy for the NAACP, in a letter to FCC Chairman
Joining the NAACP and NNPA in the letter were the leaders of a broad coalition of civil rights and national black
intergovernmental organizations representing 40 million African Americans.
The coalition pointed out that although African Americans are leaders in adopting wireless Internet access, they
often must contend with poor service.
“Despite their high wireless adoption rate,” the coalition members told the FCC chairman, “African American
wireless Internet users frequently contend with substandard and inconsistent access that plagues many urban and rural
The AT&T/T-Mobile merger can bring significant improvements, according to the coalition, because “if the T-
Mobile purchase is approved, AT&T has made commitments to substantially increase broadband access to underserved
areas and invest billions in infrastructure upgrades.”
The AT&T investment will provide upgrades to service, the coalition’s letter said, and “will lead to shovel-ready
opportunities that will put the unemployed back to work.”
The coalition also pointed out that AT&T has a demonstrated commitment to diversity in its hiring and in its
selection of suppliers. “Minority-owned firms make up 20 percent of the company’s suppliers,” the coalition said, “and
nearly 40 percent of AT&T’s employees are people of color.”
Joining NAACP and NNPA in the letter were:
Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic;
Albert E. Dotson Jr., chairman of 100 Black Men of America;
Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women;
Gary Flowers, CEO of the Black Leadership Forum;
Susan Taylor, of the National Cares Mentoring Movement;
Representative Barbara Ballard, president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators;
Senator Sharon Weston Broome, president of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women;
Vanessa Williams, executive director of the National Conference of Black Mayors;
Commissioner Arlanda Williams, president of the National Association of Black County Officials;
Dr. Valerie White, chairwoman of the Black College Communication Association;
Tommy Dortch, chairman of the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, and
Ricardo Byrd, president of the National Association of Neighborhoods. Participation
AT&T is one of the oldest of American communications companies, and T-Mobile USA is a subsidiary of Deutsche
Telekom, a German telecommunications giant. In March, AT&T offered to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in
cash and stocks.
If approved by the Federal Communications Commission, the deal will create the largest provider of wireless
service in the nation, with a combined 130 million subscribers.