First, consumers sounded off telling the Federal Communications Commission how they felt about the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Now the Department of Justice is speaking saying this merger could hurt consumers. The DOJ filed a lawsuit to block the merger.
For NewsChannel 5, I reviewed the FCC filings made by Ohio residents. I found 94% of Ohio comments were against the merger. Those against the merger gained a lot of momentum today with the Department of Justice trying to legally block the merger. The anti-trust lawsuit would stop the number two and number four wireless companies in the US from becoming one.
The $39 billion deal would create the largest wireless company in the US.
The Justice Department says it believes the merger would mean tens of millions of consumers would face higher prices, fewer choices, and lower quality products.
“Consumers across the country, including those in rural areas and those with lower incomes, benefit from competition among the nation’s wireless carriers, particularly the four remaining national carriers. This lawsuit seeks to ensure that everyone can continue to receive the benefits of that competition,” said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole.
AT&T says this merger will help consumers and mean better service for users.
AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Wayne Watts, said, “We are surprised and disappointed by today’s action, particularly since we have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DOJ that this action was being contemplated.”
AT&T says it will fight the lawsuit and has asked for an expedited hearing so what it calls the enormous benefits of the merger can be reviewed.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the deal won’t get done, but it is a major roadblock. The FCC will also weigh in on the proposed merger.