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If regulators approve the pending merger between EchoStar and DirecTV, rural schools, families and small businesses in remote areas won't benefit, according to the National Rural Education Association.

The organization laid out its opposition to the merger in letters recently sent to the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission. "In plain and simple terms, that's a monopoly," said Bob Mooneyham, NREA executive director, said of the proposed combination.

In a statement, the NREA said an estimated 22 million households, mostly in rural areas, have no access to cable TV or high-speed Internet services. For these homes, as well as schools and small businesses, satellite makes it possible to receive speedy Web services as well as TV programming.

"All of these benefits are put at risk if EchoStar/DISH and Hughes/DirecTV are allowed to merge," the NREA said. "As those of us in rural America are well aware, monopolies always lead to higher prices and poorer service - or none - in smaller, rural communities."

In response, EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said, "Rural consumers would benefit greatly from the combined company's ability to provide local TV channels in all markets, including rural areas, provide more HDTV programming, and bridge the digital divide with affordable high-speed Internet service. We believe the merger is good for consumers and should be approved based on its compelling merits."

From SkyReport (Used with Permission)
 
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