AT&T Woos Silicon Valley on T-Mobile Deal

Telecom wants their support—or at least silent cooperation

Tech companies large and small are increasingly concentrating on mobile technology, which means that AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile could have a major impact on Silicon Valley.

In an effort to gain support for the merger, execs from AT&T met with tech companies and VC firms on Tuesday, reports the Wall Street Journal. As the FCC and Justice Department review the deal between the two wireless providers, AT&T hopes that the Silicon Valley leaders will offer their cooperation, or at least stay neutral.

The AT&T execs, led by Chief Technology Officer John Donovan and chief lobbyist James Cicconi, met with 10 large tech companies on Tuesday morning, and later, during a luncheon, wooed another 20 VC firms, including Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. “Most people were there in a be-friendly mode,” said one attendee. “No one was grilling them. Nobody was being confrontational.”

The invitees’ main concerns included how the merger would affect spectrum availability, innovation and the openness of wireless networks, and whether the deal would hike up the price of data-service plans. AT&T attempted to assuage these fears, saying that the proposed merger would help grow its network—which will benefit Silicon Valley since many of the apps being developed there demand a greater wireless bandwidth. The telecom giant also argued that after past mergers, prices have actually gone down, and that the deal would help to foster innovation.

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