Tomorrow morning the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing titled “The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?” It’s the first in what looks to be numerous hearings on AT&T’s pending purchase of T-Mobile USA and earlier today, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson released his prepared statement to the subcommittee, where he explains that his company isn’t spending over $39 billion to leapfrog ahead of Verizon in the standings. No, it’s all about you, the consumer.
From Mr. Stephenson’s prepared remarks:
This transaction is all about consumers. It’s about keeping up with consumer demand. It’s about having the capacity to drive innovation and competitive prices for consumers. And most important, it’s about giving consumers what they expect – fewer dropped calls, faster speeds and access to state-of-the-art mobile broadband Internet service – whether they live in a large city, a small town, or out in rural areas.
Stephenson says his company estimates that mobile data usage is growing so rapidly that by 2015, there will be more mobile data traffic in six weeks than there was in the entire year of 2010.
“Just about the only thing that can slow down this cycle of innovation, investment and growth is lack of capacity to meet this demand,” he explains.
Of course, one could argue that only having two, similar sized companies with virtually no competition might slow that cycle down…
But wait, Randy has an answer for that too:
Some have suggested that the extraordinary consumer and economic benefits would come at the cost of reduced competition and increased prices. That is simply not true. All T-Mobile customers will have the choice of retaining their existing rate plans or switching to an AT&T rate plan, and they will thus have more choices than before, including a state-of-the-art LTE service that T-Mobile had no clear path to offer on a standalone basis…
Any concern that the wireless industry is or could be dominated by AT&T, Verizon and Sprint merely because they have the largest subscriber bases today should be put to rest by 1Q 2011 results recently reported by MetroPCS and Leap, which together gained more than a million net customers in the last quarter alone.
See? There isn’t a competition issue because MetroPCS had a good quarter! Problem solved. What he fails to mention is that, even with that sizable addition of customers, MetroPCS still has less than one-tenth the user base of AT&T.
I’m in DC for the hearing tomorrow morning (10:15 a.m. ET). Hopefully my AT&T service works so I can Tweet live from the Senate building when Stephenson and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse break out into a West Side Story-esque knife fight.