Ina Fried

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AT&T Cries “We Told You So” on T-Mobile Layoffs

Clearly still bitter over having its big deal thwarted by regulators, AT&T said Friday that T-Mobile’s layoff announcement this week shows that the country would have been better off if it had been allowed to buy its smaller rival.

“Yesterday, T-Mobile made the sad announcement that it would be closing seven call centers, laying off thousands of workers, and that more layoff announcements may follow,” Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs said in a lengthy blog post.

Cicconi said that the company wouldn’t normally comment on such matters.

“But I feel this is an exception for one big reason — only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved,” he said. “We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs.”

The corporate “I told you so” continues on for some time, and it’s worth a read, so it’s posted below.

That said, much of regulators’ concern about the deal was its effect on competition for consumers, rather than the jobs issue.

Here’s the full text of Cicconi’s statement:

“Yesterday, T-Mobile made the sad announcement that it would be closing seven call centers, laying off thousands of workers, and that more layoff announcements may follow. Normally, we’d not comment on something like this. But I feel this is an exception for one big reason– only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved. We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs.

“At that time, the current FCC not only rejected our pledges and predictions, they also questioned our credibility. The FCC argued that the merger would cost jobs, not preserve them, and that rejecting it would save jobs. In short, the FCC said they were right, we were wrong, and did so in an aggressive and adamant way.

“Rarely are a regulatory agency’s predictive judgments proven so wrong so fast. But for the government’s decision, centers now being closed would be staying open, workers now facing layoffs would have job guarantees, and communities facing turmoil would have security. Only a few months later, the truth of who was right is sadly obvious.

“So what’s the lesson here? For one thing, it’s a reminder of why “regulatory humility” should be more than a slogan. The FCC may consider itself an expert agency on telecom, but it is not omniscient. And when it ventures far afield from technical issues, and into judgments about employment or predictions about business decisions, it has often been wildly wrong. The other lesson is even more important, and should be sobering. It is a reminder that in government, as in life, decisions have consequences. One must approach them not as an exercise of power but instead of responsibility, because, as I learned in my years of public service, the price of a bad decision is too often paid by someone else.”


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google