A tremendous waste of resources was and will continue to be expended to navigate the regulatory approval process. There is the $3 billion breakup fee AT&T has to pay Deutsche Telecom if the regulators don’t bless the deal. All the paperwork, time, and effort that was put into making certain the merger passes political muster in addition to the risk inherent in the marketplace.
Yet, how are the regulators supposed to know what will happen if the merger is completed? AT&T says they can wring out $40 billion in costs. That would come from economies of scale. The savings will give AT&T the freedom to lower prices, not raise prices. Meanwhile, AT&T’s competitors will adjust to the new reality. Even if the number if existing competitors will be reduced, that does not mean there will be poorer service. There might be better service because one financially healthier company will have the capital to invest to better their offerings. People base their decisions on the information they have now and guess about the future. Regulators do not know what will happen in the future because the future is unknowable. This goes the same as for the people who work at AT&T.
Disclosure: I own shares in AT&T. As regular readers of this blog know, I have long complained about regulations and political interference in peaceful exchange.