Great news for consumers and the wireless market. The United States Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T Mobility’s merger with Deutsche Telecom’s T Mobil USA having found the merger to be anti competitive. Despite all of AT&T’s lobbying efforts consumers who wrote to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division asking that DOJ block the merger have succeeded in convincing Justice to deny this awful merger for consumers and innovators in the wireless market. The merger of AT&T and T Mobil USA would enable Ma Bell to establish a new anti competitive Ma Cell in the wireless market. The merger despite AT&T’s lies would actually destroy jobs in the country and reduce consumer choice. Justice having reviewed the facts made the smart choice in blocking the merger between the country’s second largest wireless carrier and the fourth. The merger after all would substantially reduce competition in the wireless phone market for post-paid cellular phone service. The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski who says his agency is still reviewing the information submitted from supporters and opponents of the deal says his agency also has serious concerns about the transaction. Furthermore considering the FCC has never approved a merger denied by Justice it is highly unlikely they would approve this merger.
Like others supporting the national media reform movement I was disappointed with the Justice Department and FCC’s decisions to allow previous mergers that also had potential anti competitive effects. Remember they approved Qwest Century Link and Comcast NBCU. I was disappointed with the FCC’s sell out on Network Neutrality rules of nondiscrimination and the Chairman’s decision to abandon his own Third Way approach for regulating broadband providers that involved reclassifying broadband as a TItle II public utility and an advanced “telecommunications service”. I was upset by Congressional Democrats caving to the former Bush Cheney Administration in 2008 when they voted to give telecoms immunity for their participation in the illegal warrantless wiretapping program conducted during the Bush Administration by the NSA. However, this is a historic and terrific decision by Justice ruling in favor of the public interest and competition. Justice has refused to allow AT&T to have a spectrum monopoly. I believe Internet, broadband, communications, spectrum and media policies from Washington D.C. should be designed not to just benefit big cable and telecommunications companies but should actually serve the public interest. If the merger between AT&T and T Mobil had been approved AT&T the second largest carrier and Verizon Wireless the nation’s largest carrier would have a near duopoly of the wireless market. So thanks Justice for standing up to Ma Bell and denying them a Ma Cell.
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