AT&T also promises that the merger would not mean job losses for AT&T and T-Mobile USA wireless-call-center employees on the payroll in the U.S. when the deal closes.
WASHINGTON — AT&T is pledging to bring 5,000 wireless-call-center jobs based abroad back to the U.S. if it is allowed to proceed with its proposed $39 billion acquisition of Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA.
The company also promises that the merger would not mean job losses for AT&T and T-Mobile USA wireless-call-center employees on the payroll in the U.S. when the deal closes. AT&T operates two call centers in Bothell and one in Portland.
AT&T’s commitment to repatriate jobs comes as antitrust regulators at the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department ramp up their reviews of a combination certain to reshape the wireless industry’s landscape.
The nation’s second-largest wireless carrier is seeking government approval to buy T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest, from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom. The cash-and-stock transaction would catapult AT&T past Verizon Wireless to become the nation’s largest wireless provider and leave Sprint Nextel as a distant third.
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Although AT&T said it has not yet determined where the new U.S.-based jobs would be, it promised they would offer “highly competitive wages and benefits.”
“At a time when many Americans are struggling and our economy faces significant challenges, we’re pleased that the T-Mobile merger allows us to bring 5,000 jobs back to the United States and significantly increase our investment here,” AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said in a statement.
Beyond the call-center operations, AT&T has said it does anticipate some workforce duplication but expects to make reductions largely through natural attrition.
Opponents, including public-interest groups and Sprint, insist it will lead to fewer choices and higher prices for consumers by eliminating a carrier that offers lower rates and less expensive plans.
They also fear the deal could jeopardize Sprint’s future as an independent company and lead to a wireless-industry duopoly.
AT&T and T-Mobile argue that the acquisition would benefit consumers. They say it would lead to fewer dropped and blocked calls and faster mobile Internet connections by allowing the companies to combine their limited wireless spectrum at a time when both are running out of airwaves to handle mobile apps, online video and other bandwidth-hungry services.
They also say the transaction would position AT&T to cover more than 97 percent of the U.S. population with its high-speed, fourth-generation wireless service.