Originally published at KansasProgress.com.
To be clear, I'm not going to take a position on this for the time being. But I will say two things:
One, I was disappointed by the Seinfeld-ish (it didn't say much) joint public statement made by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and my Congressman Kevin Yoder, whose district includes Sprint's headquarters. In the statement, they explicitly supported mergers "in principle," and they wrote that "mergers will, and probably should occur..."
But Brownback and Yoder -- both lawyers -- never once discuss the legal merits of the merger. And while both have experience in the US Congress, they do not state whether they support or oppose the merger. But the former Senator and current Congressman are nonetheless expert enough to tell the FCC to effectively not do its job, and take a "time out" on the case -- because the courts should handle it... because.
Now, to be fair, perhaps the current FCC, with its Obama appointees, would handle the case less fairly than the federal courts (I'm not sure, and I'm not sure ANYONE is sure, which federal courts will likely make the final determination). But this concern over legal activism is not mentioned by Brownback and Yoder.
Perhaps the worst thing in their short public statement is that in the first sentence, they do indeed explicitly spell out what motivated them to issue the statement -- not sound law, not national policy interests, not long-term economic benefits (whether for the region or the entire nation), but instead the short-term economic interests of "telecom related jobs" in the "KC Metro region" (they do not mention Sprint by name).
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Rozel, Kansas, City Councilman Brad Colglazier. According to Wikipedia, the 2000 Census found 182 people in Rozel, which sits in Pawnee County.
Because of the large (and, for me, local) nature of this issue, I will state that for the record, I do not know Councilman Colglazier, nor have I spoken with him; he submitted the article through a mutual friend.
Here's the letter by the rural Kansan in favor of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger:
Rural America Stands To Win Big In The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger
By Brad Colglazier: Rozel City, Kansas Councilman
To the Editor:
Currently, the FCC is reviewing a proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. If successful, the union of these two wireless providers will make 4G LTE technology available to over 97% of the U.S. population.
Although the merger has important implications for many regions of the country, it is particularly significant for those living in small towns or rural areas. These communities often struggle to get reliable wireless service. The problem is compounded by rapidly expanding spectrum demand caused by unprecedented growth of mobile broadband devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. In fact, demand is expected to surpass capacity by 2014. Unfortunately, this will leave rural and small town America with even less broadband access than ever before.
Should the FCC approve the merger, wireless broadband technology will be available to many of the nearly thirty percent of rural households that do not have access to the latest technology. This will effectively shrink the distance between remote communities and their urban counterparts. From a strictly economic standpoint, the merger will pave the way for billions of dollars of investment by AT&T that will create jobs in rural and underserved areas. As broadband access spreads to these regions, additional jobs will be created as existing businesses grow and new ones take root. Universal broadband access will truly allow any company – big or small, urban or rural – to compete in the global marketplace.
Combining AT&T and T-Mobile will extend wireless broadband access to millions more Americans than would have access if the two companies were not permitted to combine. Not only will the merger be universally beneficial, but it will also be an economic game-changer for rural America.
Rozel City, Kansas Councilman
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters,the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).