The Department of Justice filed an anti-trust challenge in court today blocking a $39 billion deal by communications giant AT&T to acquire wireless giant T-Mobile. The move is part of recent efforts by the Obama Administration to enforce financial and anti-trust regulation after the dearth of enforcement that characterized the Bush years and encouraged a climate of dangerous speculation leading to the financial collapse of the sub-prime housing market. The challenge to AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile follows a recent decision by the DOJ to block NASDAQ’s bid for its European counterpart, NYSE Euronext.
“Consumers across the country, including those in rural areas and those with lower incomes, benefit from competition among the nation’s wireless carriers, particularly the four remaining national carriers,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. “This lawsuit seeks to ensure that everyone can continue to receive the benefits of that competition.”
However, the DOJ made clear that it was in talks with both companies and that there is room for making changes in order to settle the anti-trust challenge. In anticipation of making some compromises AT&T announced it would return 5,000 call center jobs to the U.S. as part of the T-Mobile acquisition. AT&T says its merger will provide improved wireless service to 97 percent of the nation, underscoring the question whether its merger with a competitor will decrease competition for wireless service, increase costs to consumers, and consolidate a well-established monopoly over communications AT&T. ::KPS::