A senior AT&T executive says the firm will fight on in its battle to merge with smaller domestic rival T-Mobile USA, despite a Department of Justice (DoJ) lawsuit designed to scupper the deal.
Wayne Watts, senior executive vice president and General Counsel, revealed the DoJ action came out of the blue and flies in the face of what the operator thought had been constructive dialogue over the merger. The firm will now seek an expedited hearing to clearly highlight the benefits of the deal, he states.
“We have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DoJ that this action was being contemplated,” Watts states, adding that the firm plans a vigorous defense of the merger. “The DoJ has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive affects [sic].”
The anti-competitive effects include higher prices, a reduced choice of operator and lower quality mobile products DoJ deputy attorney general James Cole announced yesterday. “Were the merger to proceed, there would only be three providers with 90% of the market, and competition among the remaining competitors on all dimensions - including price, quality, and innovation - would be diminished,” he states.
Watts rebuffed, claiming the merger will help ease the effects of spectrum exhaustion and so boost wireless services, will allow AT&T to extend LTE coverage by 55 million subscribers, and pour “billions of additional investment” and jobs into the national economy.
Immediately prior to the DoJ move, AT&T pledged to bring 5,000 call center jobs back to the US and not to cut any staff if the merger goes ahead. “This merger and today’s commitment are good for our employees, our customers and our country,” chief and chairman Randall Stephenson commented.