[cellular news] A leading US politician has said that the planned merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA would cause "substantial harm" to competition in the telecoms market and be a bad development for consumers.
Senator Herb Kohl, who also chairs the U.S. Senate's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights wrote to the US Attorney General and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski warning that the merger would result in just three major players in what he said was an "already highly concentrated market."
"It will pose a substantial danger to consumers of higher cell- phone bills and fewer choices for service at exactly the wrong time -- when consumers are relying more and more every day on wireless-phone services to make and receive voice calls, exchange emails and text messages, search the Internet, and use many other applications,"
He particularly challenged the company's claims that the merger should be looked at on a per-market basis instead of at a national level. The difficulties of securing national roaming for the smaller networks and their lack of access to fashionable smartphones meant they could be not considered equivalent competitors in local markets.
Three other politicians also wrote to the same departments objecting to the deal. Representatives Edward J. Markey, John Conyers, Jr. and Anna G. Eshoo wrote: "We believe that AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile would be a troubling backward step in federal public policy - a retrenchment from nearly two decades of promoting competition and open markets to acceptance of a duopoly in the wireless marketplace,"
"Such industry consolidation could reduce competition and increase consumer costs at a time our country can least afford it." they added.
Rep. Markey is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and former chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. Rep. Conyers is the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Eshoo is Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.
Four US Politicians Object to AT&T Merger with T-Mobile