AT&T, T-Mobile Merger Hearings Begin Today in Senate

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Contact:  David Butler (dbutler@consumer.org), Kara Kelber (kkelber@consumer.org): 202-462-6262

AT&T, T-Mobile Merger Hearings Begin Today in Senate

Consumers Union Urges Lawmakers to Demand Answers on Consumer Impact

WASHINGTON, DC – The first Congressional review of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile will begin today with a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee. Representatives from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Cellular South, Public Knowledge and Communications Workers of America are scheduled to testify.

Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union said, “This hearing provides the opportunity for lawmakers to ask the important questions that have been left unanswered. The implications of this merger will affect all wireless consumers, not just AT&T and T-Mobile customers.  We are concerned that this proposal really means higher prices with fewer choices nationwide. AT&T wireless plans typically cost consumers up to $50 more per month than comparable plans from T-Mobile, and consumers are consistently less satisfied with the service they get from AT&T than T-Mobile. In a market already dominated with complaints of poor service and high prices, it’s hard to see how eliminating one of the few low-cost carriers is in the public’s interest. We urge members of the Committee to demand answers on how this deal would impact consumers and the wireless market.”

A recent price analysis of the voice and data plans available from AT&T and T-Mobile released by Consumers Union demonstrates that T-Mobile wireless plans typically cost $15 to $50 less per month than comparable plans from AT&T. In addition, the most recent cell-phone satisfaction survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center shows that AT&T got lower marks than T-Mobile on almost every attribute rated, suggesting the proposed merger would be a setback to T-Mobile customers if it lead to service more resembling AT&T’s than T-Mobile’s.

“For years we have advocated for reform on a number of wireless issues, including interoperability and access to broadband infrastructure, in order to boost competition in the wireless market. These issues should be addressed to improve competition in the wireless marketplace before the government rules on this acquisition, and we hope that these issues are examined in the hearing.”

The hearing is scheduled for 10:15AM. For more information on the hearing, visit www.judiciary.senate.gov.