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CWA: AT&T-BellSouth Merger Will Promote Critical Build-out of High-Speed
[December 29, 2006]

CWA: AT&T-BellSouth Merger Will Promote Critical Build-out of High-Speed

(Comtex Business Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) WASHINGTON, Dec 29, 2006 (U.S. Newswire via COMTEX) --The Communications Workers of America believes that the merger of AT&T and BellSouth, approved by the Federal Communications Commission, will promote increased investment and build-out of high-speed networks that are critical to the region's economic growth and the nation's position in the global economy.

CWA President Larry Cohen said the merger agreement included real commitments by AT&T-BellSouth for an expanded build-out of both higher speed Internet services and DSL, an important step forward in bringing the full promise of the Internet to areas that have been passed by.

"Workers at BellSouth know that the future of communications and their own future is in the build-out of high-speed telecommunications services. This merger will help provide the resources to make this possible, and at the same time, should help create quality jobs," said Noah Savant, CWA's vice president for the Southeast and BellSouth territory. "Of course we remain concerned about the net effect on jobs within the region for frontline employees and the services we provide. We are pleased to see AT&T commitment to bringing thousands of support jobs back to the United States," Savant added.

The United States, the country that invented the Internet, has fallen to 16th in the world in terms of availability and access to high-speed Internet services. The availability and benefits of the Internet should be universal, but residents in rural communities, low-income urban areas and other communities don't have high-speed access and are at a growing disadvantage.

High-tech innovation and job growth, advances in telemedicine and distance learning, and improving public safety and e-government all are possible and, in fact, are routine in much of the world. In the United States, however, current speed standards just aren't sufficient to support these kinds of services, Cohen said. "The build-out of true high-speed networks requires a huge investment of tens of billions of dollars and the AT&T-BellSouth merger will begin to provide the resources to do this," he added.

Cohen stressed that CWA strongly supports an open Internet "where consumers can go where they want, when they want. Nothing should be done to degrade or block access to websites," he said. CWA also believes that reserving proprietary video bandwidth is essential in order to make such a build-out possible. The FCC recognized this in reserving the IPTV space as proprietary, much as cable controls the bandwidth on the set top box, Cohen noted.

CWA represents 700,000 workers in telecommunications, cable and broadcast television, media, public service and health care, the airline industry and manufacturing.

SOURCE Communications Workers of America

Candice Johnson of CWA Communications, +1-202-415-656

Copyright (C) 2006, U.S. Newswire

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