Posted by amalia deloney, Center for Media Justice Written By: Jessica J. Gonzalez, NHMC
If you are Latino, and you subscribe to T-Mobile cell phone service, you are in the norm. Nearly 25% of T-Mobile’s 34 million customers are Latino. Why are we such big fans of T-Mob? Probably because it is more affordable than all of the other national cell phone service providers.
Or maybe because it has flexible plans that suit our diverse needs. Or perhaps because it has good customer service. For some time now T-Mob has been a maverick in the cellular market, inspiring a competitive spirit that keeps all of our phone bills lower than they would be without its presence, whether we connect through T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, Metro PCS, or some other provider.
Cell phone service is already very expensive, and especially for Latinos. Despite that 25% of Latinos are in poverty, we pay more for cell phones than any other demographic group – on average, we pay $104 per month. Which is why I was disappointed to hear about AT&T’s intention to purchase T-Mobile. AT&T is the second largest of four national cell phone service providers, and T-Mobile is the fourth. If AT&T is allowed to purchase T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon would serve almost 80% of cell phone users. This necessarily means less competition, which will result in higher prices, fewer choices, poorer customer service and layoffs at a time when our economy can least afford them.
Latinos, more than any other demographic group, rely on mobile phones for communication, democratic participation, civic engagement and economic empowerment. They are necessities, often serving as our only connection to the internet. Their mobile nature makes them the perfect tool for many Latinos, as many of us move about regularly to find work. We cannot afford to pay more for these lifelines. We cannot afford to get less for more.
And we cannot afford to lose our jobs. Countless Latinos stand to lose their jobs as a result of AT&T’s plans to “reduce redundancies” between the two companies. In the past decade, both AT&T and T-Mobile have hired large numbers of Latinos to staff and manage their retail stores and to provide billingual customer service for billing and other issues. Now, AT&T is proposing that if it is allowed to buy T-Mobile that it would consolidate retail stores and billing systems, leading to layoffs and eliminating opportunities for new employees to get their feet in the door.
This merger is not a done deal, and the companies are awaiting blessings from two federal government agencies: the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. Over the past few weeks NHMC has been filing legal documents to try and prevent this merger from being approved. In doing so, NHMC sits among a growing number of concerned civil rights organizations, including the National Institute for Latino Policy, the Center for Media Justice, the Greenlining Institute, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the Mexican American Political Association, the William C. Velazquez Institute, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, just to name a few.
To learn more about what this merger could mean for you, and to receive updates about the details of this merger, please read our petition to deny the merger and our reply in support of that petition, and sign up to receive updates from this blog!