WASHINGTON -- Speaking at a press conference hosted by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Free Press Policy Counsel Aparna Sridhar said:
“AT&T’s takeover of T-Mobile would leave the wireless market more consolidated than the markets for oil, banking, automobiles and air travel.
“We should all be concerned about this level of concentration in the market for a service that all Americans increasingly depend on. Mobile service is as critical for families as affordable, reliable water and electricity, and communities who can least afford to pay more will bear the cost of lining AT&T’s corporate coffers.”
STATEMENT OF APARNA SRIDHAR, FREE PRESS POLICY COUNSEL
AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
May 25, 2011
Good afternoon everyone.
Chairman Conyers, Chairman Markey thank you for the opportunity to participate in this discussion. I’m policy counsel at Free Press, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to reforming the media and ensuring that the public has a voice in media and telecommunications policy debates.
On behalf of Free Press and its half-million members, I am pleased to see that you share our grave concerns about the AT&T-T-Mobile merger. This takeover will raise prices and reduce choices for Americans across the country.
Consider that in a post-merger landscape:
AT&T and Verizon would control nearly 80 percent of the market for mobile telecommunications.
As a result of the merger, the wireless market would be more consolidated than the markets for oil, banking, automobiles and air travel. What does that mean? It means that to achieve comparable consolidation in the oil industry, ExxonMobil would have to merge with BP, Shell, Chevron-Texaco and Citgo. And to make the comparison still more accurate, Exxon would not only have to merge, but would require you to buy only Exxon gas for the next two years.
We should all be concerned about this level of concentration in the market for a service that all Americans increasingly depend on. Mobile service is as critical for families as affordable, reliable water and electricity, and communities who can least afford to pay more will bear the cost of lining AT&T’s corporate coffers. That’s why 50 organizations dedicated to social justice filed a letter today with the Department of Justice and the FCC opposing the merger.
In 1984, when the Justice Department broke up the old Ma Bell, the prevailing consensus was that AT&T had gotten too big. But the AT&T-T-Mobile merger would create a behemoth that’s substantially bigger than the old Bell conglomerate. It really is 1984 all over again.
But this time, in the wake of the Comcast-NBC merger, while the public is wary of big companies controlling too much of the market, it is also wary of public officials who serve the interests of industry instead of the interests of the public. We hope that the Department of Justice, the FCC and members of Congress will take their cues from 1984, follow the lead of the policymakers and organizations in this room, and oppose the merger.