Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., strongly criticized AT&T's proposal to merge with T-Mobile USA on Wednesday, arguing that the company had failed to adequately answer his question about how the deal will impact jobs in his area.
He also wrote to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski, whose agency is reviewing the transaction, to request a field hearing in Washington, where T-Mobile USA is located.
Inslee said in a statement that AT&T and T-Mobil failed to address his questions about jobs when they responded to a critical letter he sent them last month.
"The answers I received did little to convince me that the merger of these two companies will benefit local jobs or provide customers with better service at affordable prices," Inslee said.
Inslee, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee who is running for Washington governor in 2012, framed the merger within the broader context of unemployment.
"American consumers face diminishing choice and higher bills at a time of increasing profitability for the dominant wireless companies in today's marketplace. As a critical public resource, the airwaves should be used to advance the public interest and not concentrated in the hands of a few and thereby limiting choices for consumers," he said.
He called for the federal regulators to view consolidation in the wireless space "with considerable skepticism."
AT&T had responded to Inslee last month in a letter that said the merger "will be positive for job creation" since it will allow the wireless company to grow and invest.
The company says the merger will promote growth "throughout the wireless ecosystem," including in the applications, content, and technology sectors. A range of high-tech companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, have endorsed the deal.
The letter from AT&T acknowledged that the deal could impact some jobs.
"AT&T also is sensitive to the fact that there will be overlapping functions between the two companies; however, as with prior mergers, we expect any necessary force adjustments to be achieved mostly through normal attrition. And in all events, we believe there will be a net increase in jobs as a result of this transaction," the company said.
The Justice Department and FCC are expected to continue reviewing the deal into next year.
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