The Department of Justice today filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block the merging of AT&T and T-Mobile. The DOJ asserts that the deal could reduce competition, resulting in higher prices, lower quality networks, and “fewer innovative products for the millions of American consumers who rely on mobile wireless services in their everyday lives.”

The following statement can be attributed to Larry Downes , Senior Adjunct Fellow of TechFreedom, regarding this lawsuit:

The Justice Department’s decision is surprising and disappointing. The Department’s sensible merger guidelines, had they been applied, would have found the deal a great benefit to consumers at the local level, where mobile services are bought and used. The Department has instead untethered itself from rational analysis, inviting more delay and the potential to interrupt the mobile revolution, one of the few bright spots in the economy. Those hoping for real competition in the critical 4G LTE market will have to wait.

The following statement can be attributed to Berin Szoka , President of TechFreedom:

The DOJ has missed the forest for the trees. Neither company has the spectrum to offer a viable 4G LTE service. Only by combining their spectrum can the two companies compete effectively with Verizon’s LTE service. Such services could also compete with traditional ISPs who provide home broadband access.

The real problem here is outdated central planning of spectrum. This merger was in part an attempt to overcome government mismanagement of the most vital resource of the digital economy. By blocking the deal, the DOJ is compounding harmful government meddling in the digital economy.

Thus, ironically, in the name of protecting consumers, the DOJ ultimately will deny them meaningful choices in high-speed mobile broadband services.