AT&T to defend T-Mobile acquisiton in D.C. this week

The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom — and AT&T’s competitors won’t be sitting quietly. According to The Wall Street Journal, Sprint’s CEO Dan Hesse, Viktor Meena of Cellular South, and Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), will all be in attendance. Competitors are expected to grill AT&T’s Randall Stephenson on the deal that Hesse has said will “stifle innovation” and competition in the U.S. wireless market. While there are rumblings that AT&T has more money for lobbying than Sprint and other competitors, the nation’s largest wireless carrier, Verizon, will not be in attendance. “We are concerned this is an excuse for the government to insert itself into the marketplace,” Thomas Tauke, Verizon’s executive vice president of public affairs, policy, and communication, told The Wall Street Journal. Verizon’s concerned that AT&T could bow to government pressure on net neutrality regulation in an effort to get the acquisition passed. Sprint thinks the deal is bad for other reasons, and one spokesperson said the carrier will “explain [that it thinks] this takeover of T-Mobile is bad for consumers, bad for innovation and bad for the economy,” and added that Sprint sees the deal as a “job killer” that will create a “vertically integrated duopoly.” Meanwhile Stephenson has argued that the deal — over time — will actually be a “net job grower,” and that there’s already plenty of competition in the U.S. wireless market. Similarly, Cohen of the CWA, has called the deal a “victory for broadband proponents.”  Earlier this month the Department of Justice assured the public that it will perform an “in-depth” investigation of the deal.

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