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Facebook, Microsoft And Venture Capitalists Support AT&T And T-Mobile Merger

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The companies and their backers want more wireless bandwidth, and they see the merger as beneficial to their services.

"The access aspect of this is so, so important," the Times quoted Microsoft's lobbyist Fred Humphries as saying. "We quickly came to the conclusion that this is a good merger."

"The lack of adequate spectrum is killing the quality of users' experience," he said. "Customers say, 'I can't even get a phone call and can can't get adequate reception. So you want me to use this new service?'"

The filings with the FCC are just the latest group of influential voices lined up in favor of the merger, which would make AT&T the U.S.' largest cell phone service provider.

Their support is one development in a series of unusual alignments that have emerged both for and against the deal.

Sprint, the third-largest carrier behind Verizon Wireless and AT&T, opposes it, as does Public Knowledge, a group representing consumers, and the Rural Cellular Association.

The groups that oppose the deal say that it would be anti-competitive and would kill innovation. Among other things, Public Knowledge argues that AT&T has a history of not living up to the promises it makes when it acquires companies.

AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.

The Association for Competitive Technology, a group representing app developers, held a press call last week saying that its members want the deal to go through.

"The mobile apps community is clamoring for more bandwidth, and they want it faster, and they want it deeper, and they want it now, and so that's the big driving perspective on this," Morgan Reed ACT's executive director told TPM.

But other groups, such as The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, have come out to support the merger. GLAAD opposed Comcast's merger with NBC.

As The Washington Post noted last week, a lot of the support appears to have been ginned up by AT&T, which has financial ties in one way or another with many of the groups expressing support for the merger.

The FCC has received more than 10,000 comments regarding the issue. The Post reports that about 300 of the letters, as of last week, support it.

Among those that stand out:

AT&T-sponsored Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce urged the FCC to quickly approve the deal, saying that as a group "striving to create bridges between cultures, we look forward to the foundation that this merger will create and the opportunities that it will give the public."

The Urban League of Portland sent a similar letter to the FCC, saying the merger could help minorities gain faster access to broadband through a more robust, combined company. AT&T donated $125,000 to $249,999 last year to the National Urban League's annual convention, the group said on its Web site.