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ROUND TABLE

… On the Justice Departments approval of the AT&T Inc.-BellSouth Corp. merger, with no conditions(see related story) …

The presence of other competitors, changing regulatory requirements and the emergence of new technologies in markets for residential local and longdistance service indicate that this transaction is not likely to harm consumer welfare. The proposed acquisition does not raise competition concerns with respect to Internet services markets or net neutrality.
Thomas Barnett, Justice Department assistant attorney general

This unequivocal and unconditional approval underscores the competitive nature of our industry and the procompetitive benefits of this merger. AT&T is focused on bringing more video choices and next-generation broadband services to as many consumers as possible and our merger with BellSouth will help deliver these benefits to more consumers, more quickly.
James D. Ellis, AT&T Inc. general counsel

Unfortunately, by endorsing the largest telecommunications merger in history, the DoJ ignored the interests of consumers and the valid concerns raised by many experts and organizations that the reconstitution of Ma Bell will lead to higher prices, job cuts, violations of customer privacy and a widening of the digital divide. AT&T, with the help of a complicit government, is poised to control nearly half of the nations phone lines, and will also be the largest wireless and broadband Internet company in the country.
Andrew Schwartzman of the Competition Coalition, who also serves as the Media Access Project president and CEO

COMPTEL is deeply disappointed that the Department of Justice has completely abdicated its responsibility to protect the public and competition by enforcing the antitrust laws of the United States. There is no doubt that re-assembling the Bell system that the Reagan Justice Department broke up is anticompetitive and bad for consumers. This merger violates the DoJs own merger guidelines guidelines DoJ recently applied in a far smaller wireless merger among politically less well-connected companies.
Earl Comstock, COMPTEL president and CEO


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