Boucher: Merger won't kill competition in wireless market

AT&T's $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA wouldn't adversely impact competition in the wireless market, according to Rick Boucher, former House telecom subpanel chairman.

Critics argue the transaction would leave AT&T and Verizon Wireless in dominant positions, with Sprint a distant third. The former Democratic congressman from Virginia told Hillicon recently that even if the merger is approved by the government there would still be ample competition in the nation's largest metro areas.

"Clearly there are two dominant carriers, but after this merger is complete in 18 of the 20 largest cities there will still be five or more wireless providers," Boucher argued. "So there will be ample choice for everyone that decides they want a carrier other than Verizon or AT&T."

Boucher joined the AT&T-backed advocacy group the Internet Innovation Alliance last month, adding his respected voice on telecom policy to the small army of lobbyists and advocates pushing the government to approve the merger, arguing it would accelerate the deployment of next-generation wireless coverage.

"[The merger] is simply a step that will allow the private sector to bring broadband to 97 percent of the population," Boucher said. "One company would meet the Obama administration's goal."

The congressman said in his new role he is pushing for reform of the Universal Service Fund so firms can receive funds for building out broadband networks in rural areas. IIA also favors legislation to authorize incentive auctions, which wireless firms have argued are necessary due to an impending shortage of spectrum for mobile broadband.