The proposed $39 billion combination of AT&T and T-Mobile isn't sitting well with Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. After a Thursday appearance at the State of the Mobile Net Conference, Eshoo -- whose district straddles much of Silicon Valley -- told Tech Daily Dose: "Well, it looks to me like we're on our way to a duopoly."
She was referring to concerns that a combined AT&T/T-Mobile and Verizon, which would drop from first to second among mobile carriers, would control roughly four-fifths of the wireless marketplace. "The lens through which I will measure this is real competition and how it affects consumers," she added.
The lawmaker weighed in as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, headed by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., held the lower chamber's first hearing on the deal. She joins a growing chorus of House Democrats raising worries about the impact on consumers and competition, including Conyers and former Communications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., who warned Wednesday that federal regulatory approval would be a "mistake."
Asked whether she sees any positives to the proposed union, such as quicker nationwide deployment of superfast 4G wireless broadband technology (a positive often touted by AT&T), Eshoo said it's possible to see "value" in the acquisition. But she quickly added that the competitive impact remains paramount for her. Eshoo's panel also plans to review the transaction, which would remove the nation's fourth biggest wireless carrier from the marketplace.
For complete coverage of today's House Judiciary Committee hearing, click here