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Issa Worries Wireless Merger Could Hurt Landline Competition Issa Worries Wireless Merger Could Hurt Landline Competition

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Congress

Issa Worries Wireless Merger Could Hurt Landline Competition

May 26, 2011

House lawmakers sharply questioned executives of AT&T and T-Mobile's owner Deutsche Telekom on Thursday, delving into some esoteric issues rarely discussed outside Federal Communications Commission meetings.

At a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., expressed concern that a merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would harm competition in the market for what's referred to as "backhaul."

Backhaul is when a landline phone company such as AT&T sells access to its network to wireless companies. Unlike many smaller wireless companies, AT&T and Verizon own significant landline networks.

"We're reassembling a duopoly in the back end," Issa said.

But AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said there many other options besides AT&T and Verizon for backhaul services.

Other concerns aired at the hearing included potential job losses, competition, and extending coverage to rural areas. For more on the hearing, visit our Tech page.

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