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House Judiciary chairman Lamar Smith pledges support for AT&T, T-Mobile merger

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:24PM EST

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House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith wrote a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, on Tuesday expressing his support of AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. Smith said he believes the FCC and the Department of Justice have only heard “one side of the story” from members of congress who provided “limited information” during recent briefings. Smith also said that his committee has “heard evidence” that the merger will:

Substantially improve the quality of the capacity of its broadband network thereby creating jobs an spurring innovation; use existing spectrum more efficiently to overcome the current spectrum shortage; expand its LTE mobile broadband Internet service to 97% of America including much of rural America; and provide better service to its customers thereby giving its competitors an incentive to improve their service.

Smith said any evidence from the congressional hearings that omits the aforementioned points “paints an incomplete picture.” Sprint has been one of the most vocal opponents of the merger and has said that, in contrast to creating jobs and innovation, the acquisition will “stifle” innovation in the U.S. Wireless market. Read on for more.

AT&T said Microsoft, Facebook, 76 Democratic members of congress, 72 mayors, 6 governors and “unions representing 20 million members,” are in support of the merger. However, Senator Herb Kohl, chairman of the the Senate antitrust committee has called on federal regulators to block it. In addition, Senator Al Franken said the acquisition will “affect consumer prices, customer service, innovation, competition in handsets and the quality and quantity of network coverage.”