09/28/11 — AT&T N.C. chief makes stop at local call center

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AT&T N.C. chief makes stop at local call center

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 28, 2011 1:46 PM

The president of AT&T's North Carolina operation came to Wayne County Tuesday to, among other things, defend the company's proposed merger with T-Mobile USA Inc. -- a $39 billion takeover that has been in a holding pattern since the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit stating that the transaction would violate antitrust law.

And while Cynthia Marshall was careful not to reveal too much about the pending legal battle, she was more than willing to talk about just why the company made the move in the first place -- and the billions of dollars it would bring to North Carolina, as well as the potential for more jobs in Goldsboro.

The merger, she said, is primarily about increasing AT&T's ability to provide quality service to its customers.

"When we talk about increasing data volumes -- because of tablets and laptops and all these devices -- the volumes have gone up like 8,000 times in the last four years," Mrs. Marshall said. "That's why sometimes you have the dropped calls and the poor service quality. Everybody is competing for what we call 'spectrum.'"

But there is only so much "spectrum" to go around -- and it is allocated by the federal government.

"That's why the T-Mobile deal makes so much sense," a video produced by AT&T states.

Acquiring the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the nation would also mean AT&T acquires its spectrum, allowing the company to serve 55 million more people -- millions of whom live in rural North Carolina, Mrs. Marshall said.

But the deal would not simply benefit AT&T customers, she added.

The merger would also bring 5,000 call center jobs back to the U.S. from overseas -- and see an $8 billion investment made by the company in the next seven years.

And while she was unwilling to discuss, in detail, just how much of that money -- or how many of those jobs -- would end up in eastern North Carolina, she asked the residents of the state she overseas to look back at the last merger.

"There are certain things we can't go out and talk about, but the thing I always try to remind people in North Carolina to do is look at our track record," Mrs. Marshall said. "We matter to the corporation."

And if the people living in Wayne County need a tangible reminder of just what that means, they needn't look any further than Mar-Mac -- the community that houses the 400-employee call center constructed the last time AT&T made a move.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Marshall also made a stop in Goldsboro to speak to the employees and management team and the call center and to present a $11,000 corporate donation to the county's United Way campaign, and example, she said, of the company's commitment to giving back to the communities it serves.