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Springfield call center spared in T-Mobile closures

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T-Mobile USA, the U.S. wireless division of Bonn, Germany-based Deutshe Telekom, plans to close seven of its 24 call centers, but the Springfield center has been spared.

The affected facilities are located in Allentown, Pa.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Frisco, Texas; Brownsville, Texas; Lenexa, Kan.; Thornton, Colo.; and Redmond, Ore., according to a memo sent to employees by T-Mobile President and CEO Philipp Humm.

The move will result in job losses for 1,900 of the roughly 3,300 employees at the seven facilities, and the remaining 1,400 employees are being offered jobs at the other 17 call centers, according to the memo.

Mark Conrad, general manager of the Springfield T-Mobile call center, 2645 N. Airport Plaza, said it is too soon to tell if employees at the Lenexa center or others would relocate to Springfield.

"This is brand new news to us," he said. "We really haven't gotten the plan all together. I just cannot say for sure."

The call centers tabbed for closure will remain open for three months as T-Mobile works with the affected employees.

In the memo, Humm said the company's decision was driven by financial factors.

"The reality is our cost structure must be better optimized to match our customer base and call volumes," he said. "This decision was not easily reached, but it is a necessary measure.

"We must address our business realities so we can focus on getting T-Mobile back to growth."

T-Mobile ended 2011 with $20.62 billion in revenues, a 3.4 percent drop from revenues of $21.35 billion in 2010. The company ended the year with 33.19 million customers, down from 33.73 million at the end of 2010, according to a T-Mobile fourth-quarter financial news release, posted Feb. 23.

Conrad said he understands why the closures need to occur, but he noted his concern for the employees at the seven centers.

"It's obviously bittersweet," he said of the Springfield center being spared. "It's horrible for the ones that are closing."

T-Mobile's fourth-quarter release also noted $187 million in year-end costs related to the proposed merger with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which canceled its acquisition bid in December. As a result of the cancellation, however, AT&T paid a one-time breakup fee of $4 billion to Deutsche Telekom in the fourth quarter.

Humm's memo did not mention AT&T, but AT&T officials blamed the failed acquisition for the call center closures.

"Normally, we’d not comment on something like this. But I feel this is an exception for one big reason – only a few months ago, AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, in a news release. "We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs."

Cicconi balked at the position of the the Federal Communications Commission, which along with the U.S. Department of Justice and competitors such as Sprint and Verizon, had opposed AT&T's $39 billion cash-and-stock purchase offer of T-Mobile.

"The FCC may consider itself an expert agency on telecom, but it is not omniscient. And when it ventures far afield from technical issues, and into judgments about employment or predictions about business decisions, it has often been wildly wrong," Cicconi said.

Humm noted in the memo that T-Mobile USA also will be restructuring other parts of the company, and the majority of the changes will be announced by the end of May. He said any additional cuts would not affect customer service jobs.[[In-content Ad]]

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