FCC Chief Calls for Hearing on AT&T, T-Mobile Merger

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News Release
Consumers Union – the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
 
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the Chairman will call for an administrative hearing in the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. The hearing, rare for mergers of this kind, will add another level of scrutiny to the deal, which the Department of Justice has already filed suit to block.

“We applaud the Chairman’s initiative to recommend a hearing looking in to the proposed merger,” said Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “This move recognizes that the merger raises concerns and questions for policymakers and consumers alike and, in turn, deserves the highest level of review. We believe it is critical for the FCC to examine the consequences of a combined AT&T/T-Mobile, including higher prices, fewer choices, and the negative impact on competition in the wireless market — all which make it clear that this merger is simply not in the public’s best interest.”

A recent price analysis survey 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.

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