The head of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division says there’s no “magic number” for major players in a particular industry as his office weighs a merger between two of the nation’s four major wireless carriers.
Makan Delrahim addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on Friday and spoke with reporters afterward, according to Bloomberg.
Delrahim is leading the antitrust review of the proposed $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, and analysts have speculated that — as competition between carriers fueled new plan structures and price competition — regulators would not approve a deal to shrink the field of large U.S. wireless carriers from four to three.
Delrahim, however, said that eliminating a competitor would not necessarily spell the end of the long-sought merger — a reversal of the Obama administration’s position that supported the presence of four carriers.
“I don’t think there’s any magical number that I’m smart enough to glean about any single market,” Delrahim said.
Instead, he said the review would consider antitrust law and the economics of the wireless market.
“If economics dictate that a particular transaction violates the antitrust laws, that’s what they do,” he told Bloomberg.
T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that new players in the wireless market, such as cable operators, would bolster competition in the segment. Officials also suggested the merger would force its rivals to invest in next-generation technologies — to the benefit of the industry and overall economy.
Critics, meanwhile, questioned how industry consolidation would affect wireless consumers.