Another Government Takeover of an Industry

…and for what purpose?

The US government has used the merger-approval process to increase its influence over the telecom industry, bringing more companies under its oversight and gaining a say over activities as fundamental as equipment purchases.

The leverage has come from a series of increasingly restrictive security agreements between telecom companies and national-security agencies….


The security agreements…compel [telecom companies] to honor requests to access their systems.  What’s new is that consolidation in the industry and an influx of overseas investment have left much of the industry under the government’s sway.


Three of the top four wireless carriers now operate under such agreements….

Three of the major equipment suppliers have come under these agreements in recent years as well.

What requests?

The deals routinely require the companies to give the government streamlined access to their networks.  At their most restrictive, they grant officials the right to require firms to remove certain gear and approve equipment purchases and directors.


when T-Mobile and MetroPCS sought approval for their merger this year…the US secured 30 days’ notice before the company uses a new vendor for network equipment, and T-Mobile agreed to resolve any security concerns the government raises relating to new equipment providers, according to a 2013 amendment to the 2001 security agreement.

All of this comes under the mirage of trading freedom for security.

Makes me wonder what the government isn’t telling us about why they blocked the AT&T-T-Mobile merger a couple years ago.

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