The Washington Post

AT&T, T-Mobile hearing draws all-CEO lineup

Next Wednesday, the titans of telecom will appear before Senate lawmakers to argue for and against AT&T’s $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile.

At the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing titled “The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Being Put Back Together Again?” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm will appear to argue that the merger should be approved because as a combined company they will get wireless broadband connections to rural customers sooner than two stand-alone firms would.

Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse and regional carrier Cellular South’s CEO Hu Mena will tell lawmakers the deal will mean the end of smaller competitors and lead to higher prices for consumers. T-Mobile is the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier and known for offering lower prices and better customer service than its competitors. Consumers Union issued a report last month that showed T-Mobile customers paid on average $50 less than AT&T smart phone customers.

The hearing, called by subcommittee chair Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) will be the first in what is expected to be a string of congressional hearings on the deal that was first announced last March.

The lawmakers don’t ultimately decide the fate of the deal. The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission do. But the lawmakers influence the agencies.

Also at the hearing scheduled for next May 11, Wednesday, at 10:15 a.m.:

Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn and Communications Workers of America CEO Larry Cohen.

The merger is expected to lead to overlap in positions and some job losses. But the CWA supports it and will earn many more union members from T-Mobile employees.

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.



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