T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm is set to defend AT&T's proposed acquisition of his firm Wednesday, saying it will benefit T-Mobile's customers by bringing better coverage, improved network quality, access to next-generation wireless services and lower prices.
Humm is slated to testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. It will be the first congressional hearing to examine the $39 billion deal aimed at combining the nation's second biggest wireless company AT&T with the fourth largest provider T-Mobile USA. Humm will be joined at the hearing by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, who opposes the merger, and others.
"The combination brings together two uniquely compatible companies, achieving extensive synergies, while greatly benefiting the American economy, consumers, and particularly T-Mobile customers," Humm said in his written testimony.
He said if T-Mobile stays on its own it faces decline in subscribers, a shortage of spectrum to meet consumers' growing demand for mobile broadband services and an inability to launch 4G services given its current spectrum holdings.
While many consumer and public interest groups have lined up to oppose the merger, the Service Employees International Union announced its support for the deal last week.
And the Communications Workers of America, which includes 42,000 AT&T wireless workers, will be testifying in support of the merger at Wednesday's hearing. The CWA is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, which voiced its support for the deal after it was announced in March. As SEIU and the other union leaders note, AT&T is the only unionized U.S. wireless carrier.
"This merger is a win-win for American families. Now, thousands of workers in the telecommunications industry will have the opportunity to collectively bargain and insist that good, quality jobs stay in our communities," SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement.
While labor leaders may be touting the benefits of the deal, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., will be among those lawmakers asking tough questions of AT&T and T-Mobile USA's top executives Wednesday. Franken and other critics say they are concerned the merger will result in layoffs.
"I am concerned that the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile is going to be a raw deal for consumers," Franken, a subcommittee member, said in a statement Tuesday.