By Sara Jerome - 05/25/11 08:46 PM EDT
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, made it clear he thinks the merger would have harmful consequences.
"Approving consolidation of the number of nationwide carriers from four to three and then inevitably to two would return consumers to a duopoly in the national wireless market. This would be an historic mistake," he said.
Markey added that the loss of competition would lead to higher prices.
AT&T disputes that the merger will lead to higher costs for consumers, citing studies that find prices have dropped as the market has concentrated.
The company also disputes that the merger will necessarily result in job loss, forecasting its pledge to expand wireless access to virtually all Americans will create thousands of jobs.
An AT&T spokesperson said in response to the Democrats' press conference:
"As many industry players and observers have noted, the wireless marketplace is intensely competitive, which has led to lower prices for consumers, innovative new technologies, and an explosion in mobile devices and apps. Wireless minute-of-use prices have dropped by more than 50 percent over the past decade, and AT&T’s average revenue per megabyte for data has dropped nearly 90% since 2007. CTIA reports that U.S. consumers can choose from more than 630 unique wireless devices. All the evidence demonstrates that these trends will continue. In repeating the same unfounded claims, merger opponents simply ignore the realities of the dynamic wireless marketplace. We are confident that when regulators fully review the facts and the evidence, they will conclude that our transaction with T-Mobile will continue to deliver significant benefits to U.S. consumers.”
Conyers will question the CEOs of AT&T and T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom in a hearing on Thursday.