Two Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee signaled their support for AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile in a letter Wednesday.
Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and John Cornyn of Texas sent a joint letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, indirectly responding to earlier letters from Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) urging regulators to block the merger.
“Based on the evidence available to the Subcommittee, there are a number of reasons why a merger between AT&T and T-Mobile may prove to be a positive step along the path to world-class wireless broadband throughout the United States,” Lee and Cornyn wrote. “Some of this evidence suggests that the merger would provide significant and immediate efficiencies enabling enhanced service quality, expanded network capacity and increased data speeds.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) voiced similar arguments in a letter sent Monday in support of the acquisition.
And like Smith, the two Republican senators chided their Democratic colleagues for rejecting the deal before more closely examining its benefits, which they say include expanding next-generation wireless broadband to 97 percent of Americans.
“We are mindful … that the Subcommittee’s review was necessarily limited and that your agencies — not Congress — are properly charged with the responsibility to investigate such mergers and take appropriate action,” the congressmen wrote.
Franken and Kohl have said the merger would stifle innovation and harm consumers by placing the wireless market largely in the control of only two companies: AT&T and Verizon. Any improvement in service would be speculative at best, they added.
The FCC and DOJ are reviewing the deal to determine if it complies with federal antitrust laws and the public interest.