House Dems Urge AT&T Merger Vote

A total of 26 House Democrats sent a letter Wednesday urging the Federal Communications Commission to wrap up its review of AT&T’s $81 billion merger with BellSouth.

“While we urge you to consider all of the merits of the proposed merger, timely review of the merger will expedite the implementation of the commitment AT&T has made to broadband deployment and significantly enhance our constituents’ access to affordable broadband services, benefiting both their lives and our nation’s prosperity,” the letter said.

Among those signing the letter were Reps. Jane Harmon (D-Calif.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Gene Green (D-Texas).

The five-member FCC is scheduled to vote Friday on the merger. An Oct. 13 vote was postponed because the FCC’s two Democratic commissioners, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, insisted on giving the public time to review conditions offered by AT&T.

Copps and Adelstein can hold up the merger because Republican FCC chairman Kevin Martin lacks a partisan majority to approve the deal without Democratic support. Republican FCC member Robert McDowell isn’t participating because his old employer has raised objections to the merger.

The Justice Department approved the merger without conditions -- a move that angered Copps and Adelstein. To gain FCC approval, AT&T has promised to offer broadband access to every home in the states it serves by Dec. 31, 2007, and to offer $10-per-month broadband access to new digital-subscriber-line customers for 30 months.