Add Minnesota Senator Al Franken to the list of people who oppose the merger of AT&T (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile, and he’s not joking. Allowing the two companies to join forces “would lead to an effective duopoly” that would hurt both wireless consumers and the country in general, he said in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission this week.
The former comedian became the second senator to go on record opposing the deal in as many weeks, following a similar letter from neighbor and fellow Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. If AT&T were allowed to create the largest wireless company in the U.S. by purchasing T-Mobile for $39 billion, it would “substantially lessen competition in the already highly concentrated wireless communications market,” Franken wrote (click for PDF).
As might be expected, T-Mobile doesn’t necessarily see things the same way. “While we respect Senator Franken, his analysis of our pending transaction is just wrong,” it said in a statement obtained by BGR. “The combination of T-Mobile and AT&T should be approved because it will deliver what consumers are looking for in the age of smart phones, tablets and mobile internet–speed, service quality and reduced costs.”
AT&T faces a long battle with skeptical consumer groups and federal regulators over its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, which it has attempted to justify by saying the merger would allow it to create a widespread 4G wireless network that would bring fast Internet to almost all of the country, including rural places where wired connections would be extremely difficult to build. Detractors (including this guy) point out that the merger would give an inordinate amount of power to two companies (AT&T and Verizon) to dictate handset sales and data prices.