Ina Fried

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Anti-Merger Congresswoman, U.S. CTO Tour AT&T’s New Silicon Valley Office

A week after opening the doors to its new Silicon Valley office, AT&T played host on Monday to a pair of high-profile D.C. guests.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and California Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, got a walk-through of the Palo Alto foundry, as well as AT&T’s pitch on how it hopes to use the facility to spur innovation, fuel start-ups and create jobs. AT&T is the latest carrier to set up digs in the Bay Area, a list that includes Sprint and Verizon Wireless, as well as overseas carriers, including Vodafone, which earlier this month inaugurated a Redwood City facility.

Chopra said the site, which is designed to allow AT&T to more easily partner with small companies, is an example of how technology jobs created in one place can spill over to other parts of the country.

“In today’s information-driven economy, products and services can connect from anywhere and to anywhere,” Chopra said, as he wrapped up his tour of the facility. “Job creators need not wait for job opportunities locally.”

For her part, Eshoo praised AT&T’s work at the facility, even if she has been a vocal opponent of the company’s proposed $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile USA.

As for her opposition to the deal, even that is not necessarily set in stone.

“I think there is work to be done on it,” she told AllThingsD. “Some of the problems, at least that I have with it, and some others about the merger, is not a newer AT&T that you experience here, but the older one. It’s up to the DOJ, I think, and the company, to work on that.”

The key thing, she said, is to create an environment with competition that creates new businesses.

“I want to see new companies being born every split second of every day,” Eshoo said. “We have the capacity to do that in this country. If anyone doubts it, they should just come here and visit this and so many other places in the Valley.”

Chopra steered clear of commenting on the T-Mobile deal, instead talking about his priorities when it comes to mobile technology and jobs, including freeing up spectrum and speeding development of a public safety-oriented wireless network.

Eshoo, too, was happy to talk about the need to free up more wireless spectrum, an issue upon which she and AT&T are in agreement.

Meanwhile, since it can’t get all of the regulators and lawmakers to come to it, AT&T has also launched an ad blitz in D.C. to make its case for the merger.


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