Consumers ask Feds to block AT&T/TCI merger

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should delay the proposed merger of AT&T and Tele-Communications (TCI) because the companies haven't committed to making telecommunications services available to people who are old, disabled, poor or living in remote rural areas, according to a consumer watchdog group.

The national group, called the Campaign for Telecommunications Access, has sent a letter to FCC chairman William Kennard saying it opposes the merger between teleco giant AT&T and cable television provider TCI because the companies haven't guaranteed that services like broadband communications and local telephone services will be made available to everybody at an affordable price.

AT&T and TCI have made it clear they expect to go after high-end business users but remained silent about extending these services to "disadvantaged or scattered populations", the group said in a statement.

AT&T and TCI couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The Campaign for Telecommunications Access is a coalition of groups that watch out for the interests of old and disabled people. Some of its members are the American Council of the Blind, Community Services for the Deaf and the Ageing Forum.