"The Justice Department has a dismal record in bringing antitrust cases in fast-moving industries. In the 1960s, IBM had to defend its "dominant" mainframe business, which the personal computer soon rendered obsolete. Then Microsoft was accused of having monopoly power it only wishes it ever had. Today Google is in the regulatory crosshairs just as it faces many new competitors.
"In treating technology markets as if they were fixed in size and closed to new entrants," tech author Larry Downes wrote recently for Forbes, the case against AT&T "marks a new low in Washington's appreciation for how and why the Internet economy works."
In its focus on market concentration instead of on market power or any evidence of harm to consumers, the Obama administration is a throwback to the old style of antitrust. The last thing consumers need is the government protecting some wireless providers at the expense of others, especially if this prevents cheaper and more reliable wireless service. AT&T may not be the most sympathetic underdog, but the rationale for blocking this merger could make a target of any successful tech company.
Instead of trying to pick winners and losers, the White House and Congress should let the FCC finally hold its auctions for spectrum, then let the most innovative wireless companies compete to serve growing consumer demand."