New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Tuesday that his office will launch a thorough review of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA to examine the competitive impact on New York consumers and businesses.
Schneiderman, a Democrat, said the deal will create a near duopoly in the wireless market for that company and Verizon Wireless. Sprint, which is opposing the merger, will remain a distant third.
"Cell phones are no longer a luxury for a few among us, but a basic necessity. The last thing New Yorkers need during these difficult economic times is to see cell-phone prices rise," Schneiderman said in a statement.
While saying the merger will affect the whole state, the attorney general said he is that concerned further consolidation could hurt competition in smaller New York cities such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, which already have fewer wireless options.
He also said he would be scrutinizing AT&T’s claims that the merger will allow the company to expand its next-generation broadband wireless network to rural areas in upstate New York.
AT&T said it welcomed Schneiderman’s review.
"We look forward to sharing information with the AG's office and remain excited about the significant consumer and competition benefits that this transaction will provide, including improved customer service and expanded high-speed LTE wireless coverage to additional residents and areas across New York State and the rest of the U.S.,” the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Charles Benton, chairman and CEO of media and telecom policy group the Benton Foundation, on Tuesday called on the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission to block the deal, saying it will not serve the public interest.
“Undoubtedly, this combination will reduce competition in this market and will result in fewer choices for consumers, higher prices, and less innovation,” said Benton, whose father founded the foundation.