Is AT&T Using Investment Angle to Silence Blumenthal?

One thing you have to give AT&T a tremendous amount of credit for is knowing how to work the regulatory system – legal, financial and lobbying to get deals done. They are absolute masters and off the record I hear amazing things about just how connected they are. And they will likely need to pull on all the strings they have access to in order to make the T-Mobile acquisition happen.

So realizing the US is a Republic made up of 50 states, the company has now begun working on public opinion in individual states. Consider that today alone the company has put out two releases regarding their building of what they call the most advanced mobile broadband experience in Cincinnati and Connecticut.

In boilerplate press releases where a few items are changed, the company explains that in the greater Cincinnati area it is going to install 10 new cell sites, add spectrum carriers to 35 cell sites, enhance backhaul to 100 cell sites to enable 4G and deploy a distributed antenna system at the Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium to enhance network coverage during events. In Connecticut, the company said it will deploy enhanced backhaul connections to approximately 750 cell sites to enable 4G, install about 15 new cell sites, add spectrum to 500 cell sites to support more traffic and deploy a new distributed antenna system at Hartford’s premier sports and entertainment arena.

Of special note is this part of the release which is made by the president of AT&T in the respective states or Tom Pelto in Ohio and Rodney Smith in Connecticut.

“Our story is getting even better for Connecticut,” [insert president name here] said. “Our recently announced agreement to acquire T-Mobile USA represents a great deal for customers and a major commitment to strengthen and expand our network. In fact, this deal, if approved, means that we’ll be able to expand the next generation of mobile broadband – 4G LTE – from our current plan of 80 percent of the U.S. population to 95 percent.”

[President name goes here] said the T-Mobile acquisition provides a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending wireless exhaust situation facing both companies while adding cell towers. Additional towers mean additional capacity which means fewer dropped calls. “We’ll be able to provide better voice quality and data performance to our customers,” said [you get the idea].

Notice the connection between investing and allowing the acquisition to go through and increasing 4G speeds throughout the country.

It is worth pointing out however that AT&T has to invest all this money in upgrading its network as its reputation as being not able to support phone calls on its phones needs to be overcome. However, having said that – and as critical as I have been about the company – my new iPad 2 which should arrive soon was ordered with AT&T as opposed to Verizon as the network is indeed quite quick these days and I am a happy AT&T data customer.

But getting back to press releases – why mention Connecticut and Cincinnati first? After all in Connecticut we are a bunch of boring bankers and a relatively small state without much clout when compared to New York or California. Perhaps this is an alphabetical thing where they skipped Alabama – in this case we can expect California or Colorado to be next?

Hmm, It could be a coincidence but two days ago Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal used the antitrust word in connection with the AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile.

Now I am not saying there is a connection here – but hey, we are talking about Connecticut. I can’t think of another reason why our little state would be chosen to as the second one and why the news came so closely on the heels of the Senator’s concerns.

This is a very smart move by AT&T but perhaps a little more transparent than they hoped for.

To keep up with the latest in the communications regulatory environment be sure to attend the Regulatory 2.0 Workshop hosted by Hosted by Pillsbury Shaw Pitman, April 12th, 2011 in Washington, DC.

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