Ever since talk of a possible buyout of Bellevue-based T-Mobile by AT&T there has been no shortage of supporters and detractors but none bigger that the Department of Justice that suing to block the merger. The suit makes several claims including diminished competition that would hamper innovation, higher prices and the start of a monopoly.
The news of the suits has been music to the ears of many of the early detractors, such as, Senator Al Franken and rival Sprint. The DOJ investigation has also brought out some newer voices in the two candidates, Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna, vying to be the next governor of Washington state.
“I have long believed that this merger would be a terrible deal for consumers, and I’m pleased the Department of Justice has taken the wise step of officially opposing it,” Franken said in a statement.
“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,” Sprint said in a statement
“In these difficult economic times, the last thing Washingtonians need are more layoffs, increases in their wireless bills and fewer choices for wireless service,” said Inslee, a Democrat. “The Department of Justice clearly shares some of my concerns. It is appropriate to ensure that consumers are not harmed by this merger, and jobs are not needlessly lost. I’ve asked AT&T to answer some pertinent questions about the merger, and thus far I have not been satisfied with their responses.”
McKenna, a Republican, said: “We are concerned about losing T-Mobile as an innovative competitor. T-Mobile was the first to use the Android system on its phones, it has offered unlimited pricing and is in other ways a strong competitor. … We are concerned about losing T-Mobile’s higher customer service levels. AT&T does not have the best reputation for customer service and is not located in our area.” He also hinted at working with the feds in court: “We expect to be involved in any conversations with the parties about any possible resolution, or barring that expect to be working with DOJ to prepare for trial.”
Both AT&T and T-mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom pledge to fight the suit. The union that represents AT&T’s workers Communication Workers of America has also show their disappointment in the suit stating that they looking forward to welcoming T-mobile’s workers to their fold.
“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,” said Wayne Watts, AT&T’s general counsel.