Republicans Remain on the Sidelines

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-07-20 Print this article Print


Furthermore, Kohl contends that AT&T and T-Mobile's defenses are without merit and the contention by both companies that the merger shouldn't be considered on a national basis but on a regional basis is contrary to the facts.  Kohl also called into question claims by AT&T that acquiring T-Mobile would enable the company to better serve rural (T-Mobile has little if any presence in rural areas) and urban areas. Kohl agreed with statements from other opponents of the merger asserting that AT&T only needs to build more cell sites and use the spectrum it already has.

Kohl closed by saying the one thing that the FCC has so far refused to acknowledge-that approval of the merger would reverse "the historic triumph of competition policy of three decades ago and that the breaking up of the AT&T phone monopoly into numerous competitors unleashed an explosion of innovation that led to such technologies as cell phones and the Internet." Kohl said that to replace the AT&T phone monopoly with a near-duopoly of AT&T and Verizon would be "harmful to consumers, contrary to antitrust law and not in the public interest." He then urged the DOJ and the FCC to take all necessary actions to deny approval of the merger.

If this makes you think that the Democrats in the Senate and the House are saying "No" to this deal, you'd be right. The question is whether the FCC will pay attention to the Senator or the Members of Congress. The FCC is an independent agency, it reports to the President, and if Julius Genachowski wants to ignore Congress, he can. But will he?

The same isn't necessarily true of the Justice Department. The Attorney General is also part of the Executive Branch, but he has to work closely with Congress. To defy the clear will of the Chairman of the Senate Antitrust subcommittee would probably have consequences. More importantly, the DOJ is bound to follow the antitrust law, which Senator Kohl quotes in great detail in his letter. He doesn't have the freedom to decide what part of the law to follow.

Of course, if the House and the Senate were to pass a resolution opposing it and maybe start some legislation moving through committee that would specifically stop it, then the merger would be unlikely. But that's not going to happen. The Republicans in Congress haven't said where they stand on this issue, but they're focused on beating the Democrats in 2012, so they'd likely be in favor of the merger if only because the Democrats aren't and to show their richest donors how business-friendly they are.  

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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