Acadiana Business

La. PSC won't oppose AT&T/T-Mobile merger

by Leslie Turk

The Louisiana Public Service Commission Wednesday agreed not to oppose the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The PSC staff also had recommended approval of the deal, spokesman Colby Cook tells ABiz.

The Louisiana Public Service Commission Wednesday agreed by a 4-1 vote not to oppose the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The PSC staff also had recommended approval of the deal, spokesman Colby Cook tells Abiz.

Andrew Schwarz, an associate professor in LSU's Department of Information Systems and Decision Sciences, delivered a broad overview of the proposal, Cook says, with the main opposition to the proposal coming from competitor Sprint. AT&T, of course, testified about the benefits of its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

Foster Campbell was the only commissioner not supporting the merger. Louisiana is the second state to approve it, following the lead of Arizona. Three other states are still reviewing its impact on competition and consumers.

"We are pleased that the Louisiana Public Service Commission has completed its review of our merger with T-Mobile and has voted not to oppose the transaction," AT&T spokeswoman Kim Allen said in an emailed statement Thursday. "As a result of this merger, 98 percent of Louisiana's population will have access to 4G LTE and the tremendous benefits that come with the next-generation of mobile broadband technology."

Support for our merger is broad, Allen says, and continues to grow. "With [Wednesday's] action, the LPSC joins numerous elected officials from across the country, including 26 governors, 72 mayors and 77 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives; a dozen labor unions; leading high-tech companies, such as Microsoft and Facebook; venture capitalists; and several educational, health and civic groups in recognizing that this transaction is good for consumers and for our economy."

The Hill noted that the PSC's staff report argues that AT&T's pledge to deploy next-generation wireless broadband nationwide will result in at least $8 billion in investments, a portion of which will be in Louisiana. The Hill also reported:

A staff report from last week argues the opposition comments filed by Sprint are largely focused on national issues currently being weighed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice (DOJ), not Louisiana-specific issues that would justify the state blocking the merger.

"Staff is confident the FCC and DOJ, with their expansive resources and expertise on those matters, will perform a thorough review of Sprints (sic) concerns regarding the impact this acquisition may have on a national level," the report states.

Read more of The Hill's story here.

In a press release issued this morning, the Internet Innovation Alliance applauded the PSC's approval.

"In approving the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, the Louisiana PSC voted for a more connected future for all residents, both urban and rural," said IIA Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman. "High-speed mobile broadband puts all communities on an equal footing in the global competition for jobs, customers and services."