U.S. Senator Al Franken, a democrat from Minnesota, published a press release yesterday stating his views on AT&T’s proposal to takeover T-Mobile. He says the “transaction is not in the public interest” and that “it would result in greatly reduced competition, the potential loss of thousands of jobs, higher consumer prices, and less innovation” in America’s wireless industry. For those of you who don’t have ADHD, you can read the complete 24 page letter [PDF document here] he sent to Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and his colleagues. Our favorite bit is the conclusion, where he states:
Thirty-three million Americans have made the decision to purchase wireless service from T-Mobile rather than AT&T. These consumers prefer T-Mobile over AT&T for a wide variety of reasons. Some of them prefer T-Mobile’s less expensive plans, some find its network to be superior, some prefer the handsets that T-Mobile offers, and some prefer T-Mobile’s customer service. AT&T can acquire these customers at any time by offering a better product, improving its network, lowering prices, or providing better customer service. Unfortunately, competing for customers has never been AT&T’s preferred method of acquiring customers. Instead, it has acquired most of its customers both in the wired and wireless markets through mergers and exclusive agreements.
As much as we’d like to cheer Franken’s passionate plee to prevent this catastrophic deal from going through, we have to admit that we have a complete lack of faith in the American government and will likely be writing an article about how AT&T got their way come Q1 2011. During the second quarter of this year alone, AT&T spent nearly $5 million on lobbying, compared to $3.1 million in the same quarter last year, and $6.8 million in Q1 2011. That’s money that could have been spent on training employees to offer better customer care, or improving the network, but we all know that’s not how the game is played in Washington.
Update: T-Mobile just issued a response, which we’ve copied below in full:
Tom Sugrue, T-Mobile senior vice president of government affairs, today issued the following statement in response to Sen. Al Franken’s decision to oppose the AT&T transaction: “While we respect Senator Franken, his analysis of our pending transaction is just wrong. The combination of T-Mobile and AT&T should be approved because it will deliver what consumers are looking for in the age of smart phones, tablets and mobile internet – speed, service quality and reduced costs. As is documented in our government filings, the combination of our two networks creates significant efficiencies that will trigger strong benefits for consumers. We are confident that a thorough review of the record will demonstrate the transaction advances the public interest.”