New York’s state attorney general said Tuesday that he will investigate the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile for potential anti-competitive harms that would affect consumers and businesses.
In a release, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the merger would form a near duopoly for wireless service, with 130 million subscribers for the merged firm and nearly 100 million for Verizon Wireless.
He said T-Mobile, a unit of German’s Deutsche Telekom, has been a low-cost alternative to New York residents. If the companies are merged, competition could decrease and lead to higher prices, public interest groups have warned.
“The last thing New Yorkers need during these difficult times is to see cellphone prices rise,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Schneiderman’s concerns echo those of consumer advocacy groups, who have urged the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department to block the merger. AT&T has argued that there is more competition in the wireless industry than other communications businesses. And it promised that a combined company would accelerate government hopes to bring mobile broadband service to the nation.
Skeptics say most Americans already have access to wireless services and that the combined company would have less incentive to serve those with inferior-quality wireless Internet connections. Meanwhile, prices for data could increase with less competition and a move by AT&T to tiered Internet service prices.