States weigh in on AT&T-T-Mobile merger

The majority of state governments have voiced an opinion on the proposed merger between T-Mobile and AT&T. Most are in favor, but a few are expressing concern.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
4 min read
AT&T to buy T-Mobile

Editors' note: This story was originally published on June 13. It has been updated with new information.

Almost three months to the day since AT&T first announced its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile, federal scrutiny of the deal is well under way. AT&T has filed its paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission, the public is weighing in on the FCC's Web site, and opponents and supporters are lining up.

Though the U.S. Senate has held hearings as well, only the Department of Justice and the FCC have the official power to approve or deny the merger. AT&T does not have to seek formal approval at the state level, but state governments can make the transaction more complicated if they bring antitrust lawsuits. And as CNET's Maggie Reardon has reported, states have extensive oversight over communications through the regulation of rates, cell tower placement, and consumer complaints.

That's why it doesn't hurt for AT&T to lobby for the merger not only in Washington, D.C., but also in state capitals across the country (the carrier has even gotten into a tussle with Sprint over a possible state review in West Virgina). And at the time of this writing, AT&T has been successful. Though three states are taking a closer look, 17 27 state governors have voiced their approval.

Below the governor level, the attorneys general of Arkansas, Utah, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming sent a joint letter of support to the FCC on July 27. And on September 16, the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington sent a letter opposing the merger. Months earlier, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office would "undertake a thorough review of AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile" and analyze the merger for "potential anticompetitive effects on consumers and businesses."

We'll add to this list as events unfold, but here's how the states are lining up so far.

Governors in favor

Action taken? Who sent it? Date
Alabama Letter to FCC (All letters are in PDF format) Gov. Robert Bentley (R) June 14
Arizona Letter to FCC Gov. Jan Brewer (R) June 20
Arkansas Letter to FCC Gov. Mike Beebe (D) May 23
Colorado Letter to FCC Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) May 27
Connecticut Letter to FCC Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) June 10
Delaware Letter to FCC Gov. Jack Markell (D) June 8
Florida Letter to FCC Gov. Rick Scott (R) June 22
Georgia Letter to FCC Gov. Nathan Deal (R) May 17
Idaho Letter to FCC Gov. C.L. Otter (R) May 17
Iowa Letter to FCC Gov. Terry Branstad (R) May 26
Kentucky Letter to FCC Gov. Steve Beshear (D) May 26
Louisiana Letter to FCC Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) May 19
Maine Letter to FCC Gov. Paul LePage (R) May 19
Maryland Letter to FCC Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) June 20
Michigan Letter to FCC Gov. Rick Snyder (R) May 19
Missouri Letter to FCC Gov. Jay Nixon (D) August 12
Nevada Letter to FCC Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) May 27
North Carolina Letter to FCC Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) May 31
North Dakota Letter to FCC Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) July 1
Ohio Letter to FCC Gov. John Kasich (R) June 9
Oklahoma Letter to FCC Gov. Mary Fallin (R) May 16
South Carolina Letter to FCC Gov. Nikki Haley (R) May 21
South Dakota Letter to FCC Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) June 20
Tennessee Letter to FCC Gov. Bill Haslam (R) May 27
Texas Letter to FCC Gov. Rick Perry (R) May 25
Vermont Letter to FCC Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) June 20
West Virginia Letter to FCC Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) June 21

State agencies

Action taken Next steps
Arizona The Arizona Corporation Commission said it would consider the merger. Without conducting a hearing, the commission voted for approval on July 5.
California By a 3-2 vote on June 9, the California Public Utilities Commission decided to investigate the deal and its effects on the state's consumers and economy. The commission will ask for more information from AT&T directly, and it will hold a series of public hearings around the state. It then plans to issue its findings by October, which is when the FCC has promised to vote on the matter.
Louisiana The state's Public Service Commission said in May that it would seek public comment on the merger, though it would not be conducting its own investigation. On July 27 the commission voted to approve the merger.
New York In a letter to the FCC filed on June 16, the New York State Public Service Commission urged the federal agency to closely evaluate on a market-by-market basis how the deal could affect wireless concentration. The public service commission says it will continue to scrutinize the merger and report additional findings to the FCC.