States Begin Approval of AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

The Louisiana Public Service Commission today voted 4-1 to approve the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, following Arizona’s approval earlier this month.  Both state commissions signed off largely without proposing regulatory requirements.  California, West Virginia, and Hawaii are continuing to review the acquisition.

Digital Liberty and Louisiana’s Pelican Institute weighed in ahead of the hearing with a letter urging the Commission to avoid placing conditions and regulations on the merger and noting the state of competition in the wireless industry across the country – including significant price declines following recent mergers.  From the letter:

"We urge the PSC to avoid placing conditions and burdensome regulations on the merged company. Merger conditions – extraneous or otherwise – would be extremely detrimental to the innovative tendencies of the wireless industry. Such conditions would be levied against a single company, picking winners and losers in the market, creating an un-level playing field, and disrupting the merger’s prospects on a national scale.

"Today’s wireless market is highly competitive, and it will remain that way following the merger. Over the past decade, there have been five major telecom mergers. Yet, wireless prices have been cut in half during that time. Even as consumers trend toward using more wireless data – an 89 percent increase in the past year – data prices have declined by 46 percent. Nationally, almost 90 percent of Americans can choose between five or more providers, even following the past decade’s mergers."

Click here to read the entire letter.

Update: A group of 11 state attorneys general announced their support for the merger yesterday as well.  Notably, one signatory on the letter to the DOJ and FCC was the Attorney General of West Virginia, one of three states currently reviewing the merger.