AT&T is not planning to close the T-Mobile call center in Oakland, the company said in a statement late Thursday to Maine’s two U.S. senators.

The statement came in response to a letter sent last month from Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who urged AT&T’s chief executive officer, Randall Stephenson, to “consider the impact” on the call center amid its proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA.

The senators expressed a “profound concern about the impact on Maine jobs” as a result of the merger. The call center has about 700 employees.

James W. Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, told the senators that the two companies continue to operate independently as the proposed merger is reviewed by federal officials.

“As a result, we are limited in the amount of information we can obtain about T-Mobile’s current operations,” Cicconi writes. “However, based on the information available to us currently, we have no plans to close the T-Mobile call center in Oakland following the merger closing.”

T-Mobile operates call centers at 24 locations in the U.S., employing more than 15,000 people, according to data released Friday from T-Mobile.

With a population of 6,200, Oakland is, by far, the smallest of the 24 communities that are home to T-Mobile call centers. Most other T-Mobile call centers are located in large cities, with populations of more than 100,000.

Citing company policy, AT&T spokesman Will Keyser on Friday declined to disclose any information on the number of AT&T call centers or their locations. A company official has previously said that AT&T does not operate call centers in Maine.

“For competitive purposes, we do not disclose that information,” Keyser said.

Cicconi told Snowe and Collins that more information will be shared with T-Mobile employees when the merger nears completion.

“We are mindful of, and have great respect for, the fine record of T-Mobile in delivering high-quality customer care,” he writes. “At AT&T, we also strive to deliver the highest level of customer care, and it would be our objective that the combination of best practices and top-flight personnel from both companies would allow even greater service to our joint base of customers.”

In a joint statement, Snowe and Collins said they were “encouraged that AT&T has stated it has no current plans to close the Oakland call center.”

“We are also pleased that AT&T recognizes the outstanding dedication and talent of these workers, and has pledged to keep them informed about any developments that may affect them and their families,” they said.

Before the letter from Snowe and Collins, AT&T officials had publicly been noncommittal about the call center’s future, saying it was “premature” to know whether the center would be affected by the acquisition. T-Mobile USA’s current owner is Deutsche Telekom AG, Germany’s largest phone company.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the $39 billion sale, which is subject to federal review, would enable the cell phone carriers to make billions in cost cuts, which would “probably involve thousands of job losses.”

In an interview published this week with the Washington Post, however, Cicconi downplayed the potential of layoffs.

“At AT&T we’ve never had significant layoffs after a merger,” he said. “But of course there will be overlap. But we will deal with that through attrition.”

AT&T filed its application with the U.S. Justice Department last Friday and is aiming to file another application next week with the Federal Communications Commission, the Post reported. The reviews could take a year or more.

The T-Mobile call center opened in Oakland’s FirstPark complex in 2005, investing $17 million to locate in a 78,000-square-foot call center. The company was attracted to the Oakland location because it found enough skilled workers throughout the central Maine area could fill the center’s jobs.

Snowe and Collins said in their letter that the call center is “one of T-Mobile’s most successful and highest performing,” and has been “consistently been ranked as one of the ‘Best Places to Work in Maine’ by the Best Companies Group, and its workers contribute greatly to T-Mobile’s frequent awards for customer satisfaction and quality from J.D. Power & Associates.”

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

[email protected]

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