AT&T/T-Mobile merger finds more support in the states

The Louisiana Public Service Commission votes to approve AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. Louisiana now joins several other states that are supporting the deal.

AT&T to buy T-Mobile

Even as the federal government continues to weigh AT&T's proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile, the deal continues to win support at the state level.

Yesterday, the Louisiana Public Service Commission approved the deal by a 4-to-1 vote. In addition to expressing confidence that the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice will review the merger thoroughly, the Louisiana commission said that "the proposed acquisition has received overriding support locally, as is evidence by the diverse number of groups and officials who are in support."

On May 20, Louisiana regulators said they were opening public comment on the merger, but were stopping short of conducting a formal investigation. The state's governor, Bobby Jindal (R), had already announced his backing in a letter (PDF) to the FCC the previous day.

The decision puts Louisiana in a large group of states that has shown strong approval for the merger in one way or another. At the time of this writing, 26 state governors (including Jindal) have sent letters of support to the FCC and the Arizona Corporation Commission voted to approve the deal without a hearing earlier this month. And just yesterday, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (R) announced he had jointly signed a letter to the FCC with attorneys general from Utah, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Though state governments have no official power to deny the acquisition, they can slow the approval process at the federal level through antitrust lawsuits or by providing negative feedback to the FCC or the Justice Department. And on that front, AT&T hasn't won full approval yet.

California, Hawaii, and West Virgina and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are conducting investigations, though none have yet to release findings. Also in New York, the state's Public Service Commission warned the FCC last month that the merger could significantly harm public interest and stifle competition for wireless services.

 

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