Thank goodness someone is standing up to big monopolies and illegal anti-competitive behavior. The Department of Justice announced today that it is filing suit to block AT&T from acquiring competitor T-Mobile on antitrust grounds. I applaud the DOJ for taking our vital antitrust laws seriously.
Of course, AT&T claims that the proposed merger is not anti-competitive, saying “We remain confident that this merger is in the best interest of consumers and our country.” When a company only has three competitors and seeks to eliminate one of them, how can that not be anti-competitive?
And the stock market seems to agree. Not only did AT&T’s shares fall today on the announcement, but shares in Sprint/Nextel soared 7.6%. Merging AT&T with T-Mobile would have created the largest cell phone company in the US and reduce the number of players in the market from four to three.
Eliminating T-Mobile would have been especially bad for innovation in the mobile phone business. T-Mobile was the first carrier to offer a smartphone based on the Android OS, the first Blackberry e-mail over wireless, the first national Wi-Fi hotspot access, and the first nationwide advanced HSPA+ data network. They also managed to undercut AT&T on prices. No wonder AT&T wanted to buy them out.