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FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is throwing his agency’s weight behind the Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit against AT&T over its proposed merger with T-Mobile.
“By filing suit today, the Department of Justice has concluded that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile would substantially lessen competition in violation of the antitrust laws,” Genachowski wrote. This marks the first time that the FCC has actively spoken against the $39 billion merger.
Competition is an essential component of the FCC’s statutory public interest analysis, and although our process is not complete, the record before this agency also raises serious concerns about the impact of the proposed transaction on competition. Vibrant competition in wireless services is vital to innovation, investment, economic growth and job creation, and to drive our global leadership in mobile. Competition fosters consumer benefits, including more choices, better service and lower prices.
Many have argued that AT&T would wield too much power in the US mobile industry if it buys T-Mobile, since it would only leave three major US carriers together with Verizon and Sprint. Now it appears that the FCC is taking those complaints seriously.
Sprint, one of the biggest critics of the deal, sounded unsurprisingly elated in its response to the antitrust suit. Senior vice president of government affairs Vonya B. McCann issued the following statement on behalf of Sprint:
The DOJ today delivered a decisive victory for consumers, competition and our country. By filing suit to block AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile, the DOJ has put consumers’ interests first. Sprint applauds the DOJ for conducting a careful and thorough review and for reaching a just decision – one which will ensure that consumers continue to reap the benefits of a competitive U.S. wireless industry. Contrary to AT&T’s assertions, today’s action will preserve American jobs, strengthen the American economy, and encourage innovation.