TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced…

TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that he sent a letter to the Public Service Commission seeking to ensure that the imminent merger of BellSouth and AT&T does not harm competition for basic, affordable telephone service. Crist urged the PSC to recommend caution to the Federal Communications Commission, which is ultimately responsible for approving the merger.

Crist’s letter outlines his concerns that the merger could be to the detriment of consumers who look for simple, affordable calling plans. Crist noted that the proposed merger would bring together the largest local exchange company in Florida and the nation’s largest provider of local voice, long distance and broadband DSL services.

“My concern here is that the merged company might squeeze out real competition to the detriment of consumers, particularly seniors and residential and small business customers,” Crist wrote. “Unfortunately, these customers are rarely a priority for any corporate ‘Goliath,’ so other competitors must remain in the market to offer real, cost-effective options.”

Crist recommends that the FCC establish such protective measures as ensuring reasonable access to “last-mile” facilities, the wiring that actually goes into consumers’ houses, and preventing anti-competitive conduct and pricing at the wholesale and retail levels.

The Attorney General’s letter to the PSC is available at:

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