AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile could have serious repercussions for regional and rural wireless carriers, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said in a letter to federal regulators on Thursday.
"If the merger goes through, a vast amount of the most valuable spectrum for deployment of advanced services will be controlled by one carrier," Chabot wrote in the letter, obtained by National Journal. "In addition, elimination of the alternative roaming partner for the regional and rural providers that utilize GSM technology will greatly impact the regional and rural wireless providers."
In the letter, sent to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder, Chabot does not take a position on the merger but asks the agencies to carefully examine the proposed deal.
Chabot's statement contrasts with those of Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, who on Thursday praised the potential benefits of the $39 billion merger. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, also recently came out in support of the merger.
To Chabot, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, rural and regional carriers are a particular concern.
"These smaller carriers currently provide important competitive choice to consumers across the country," he wrote. "In order to ensure consumers still have viable options, it is especially important to examine the impact of this proposed merger on regional and rural wireless service providers' opportunities to secure the vital inputs including spectrum, roaming and handsets, necessary for their operation."
Critics of the merger have disputed AT&T's claim that smaller carriers pose significant competition to the wireless giant.