Public Knowledge President & Co-Founder Issues Statement On AT&T/T-Mobile Deal

Ever since the proposed takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T was announced there’s been harsh opposition to the merger, mostly having to do with consumer choice and anti-competition fears.

Public Knowledge, a Washington D.C. based public interest group, has long been outspoken when it comes to consumer choice across a wide variety of issues, and the AT&T/T-Mobile deal is no exception.  Public Knowledge President and Co-Founder Gigi B. Sohn criticized the takeover today, saying “It would be hard to imagine a takeover that could do more harm to consumers.”  She spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference hosted by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.  The following is her full statement on the subject:

It would be hard to imagine a takeover that could do more harm to consumers than AT&T buying out its competitor, T-Mobile.  If this deal is allowed, about 80 percent of the market share and 90 percent of the revenue will belong to two companies – AT&T and Verizon.

That’s a great deal for them, a bad deal for consumers.  It will mean higher prices.  As smaller competitors are bought out or squeezed out, the huge companies that are left will be able to raise rates, have stricter caps on data usage and do just about anything an unregulated duopoly feels like doing.

It will mean less innovation.  T-Mobile was the first company to market with the Android phone.  It still has more flexible calling plans than other companies.

Consumers already know this is a bad deal.  As soon as the takeover was announced, Public Knowledge started getting unsolicited email from people all over the country.

One we received just yesterday said:

“I now have T-mobile and I’m very happy with them and to think that AT$T buying us is so wrong!!!   If this deal had happen[ed] in 2008, I would not had the android phone I have now. I know what AT$T’s vision for us now is.  They want to share with us more dropped calls and rude customer service and make us pay more.”

About 5,000 other people like this one have already sent comments to the FCC asking our regulators to stop this takeover.

This transaction is a pivotal moment in U.S. antitrust law.  If that law means anything, this classic merger of one company buying out a smaller competitor in the same business must be denied.  There are no conditions or divestitures that can make this deal acceptable.  This merger is unfixable.