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Markey: AT & T, T-Mobile Deal Would Be 'Historic Mistake'

Thu, 05/26/2011 - 7:58am
Maisie Ramsay

Congressmen Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) came out with a litany of concerns about AT&T's buyout of T-Mobile USA at a Tuesday press conference amid growing scrutiny of the deal by lawmakers in the House and Senate.

"The AT&T, T–Mobile deal is like a telecommunications time machine that would send consumers back to a bygone era of high prices and limited choice," Rep. Markey said in prepared remarks, citing the fact that AT&T and Verizon would hold a near-duopoly share of the U.S. wireless market if the merger were to be approved. "This would be a historic mistake."

Rep. Markey is a senior member of the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee and the former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

Rep. Conyers expressed concerns that AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile would cut jobs, raise prices and decrease choices for consumers.

"It is time for the Department to exercise its power and look closely at this national, horizontal merger," Rep. Conyers said in prepared remarks. "Mergers always eliminate more jobs than they create. There is every likelihood that the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T could lead to both higher prices and decreased consumer choices."

Representatives from consumer groups opposed to the merger joined the lawmakers at the press conference, including Public Knowledge President and co-founder Gigi Sohn; Consumers Union communications policy counsel Parul Desai; Free Press policy counsel Aparna Sridhar; and Andrew Schwartzman, policy director of the Media Access Project.

The megamerger of AT&T and T-Mobile has drawn considerable opposition from the companies' smaller competitors and consumer groups. However, not everyone is opposed to the deal.

AT&T's pledge to expand its LTE network to an additional 55 million Americans in underserved, rural areas is proving to be a compelling proposition to groups like the NAACP, AFL-CIO and some economic development groups, which have expressed support for the deal. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) also want regulators to approve the merger, since it would allow T-Mobile's employees to get union jobs at AT&T.

AT&T is working hard to convince lawmakers that its merger with T-Mobile will ultimately benefit their constituents and today announced that nine state governors supported the merger.

The FCC and Department of Justice are reviewing the deal.

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