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Rob McKenna

One of the big fears surrounding AT&T’s proposed buyout of  T-Mobile is that the deal will decrease competition in the mobile industry, potentially leading to higher prices for consumers. The massive $39 billion deal, which still faces tough scrutiny from federal regulators, also is getting a close look by some state attorneys general, including  Washington AG Rob McKenna.

A spokeswoman for McKenna said the state’s antitrust division is keeping “tabs” on the proposed merger and has made contact with the companies and the Department of Justice on the matter.  “We are always looking out for consumers,” the spokeswoman tells GeekWire.

That’s, of interest, in part because T-Mobile happens to be based in McKenna’s backyard of Bellevue.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that the top attorneys in several states — including New York, Connecticut and Minnesota — are concerned about the impact of the deal on consumers.

New York Attorney General yesterday said he would “closely scrutinize” the deal, establishing a thorough review of what it could mean for wireless customers in his state.

“Cell phones are no longer a luxury for a few among us, but a basic necessity. The last thing New Yorkers need during these difficult economic times is to see cell phone prices rise,” said Attorney General Schneiderman in a press release. “Affordable wireless service and technology, including smart phones and next generation handheld devices, are the bridge to the digital broadband future. We want to ensure all New Yorkers benefit from these important innovations that improve lives.”

T-Mobile, historically, has been of the lower-cost carriers in the U.S. Wiping them out not only would diminish competition, but potentially force people with lower incomes on to higher priced plans.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that several other state attorneys general are likely to investigate the merger for potential anti-consumer

Meanwhile, the CEOs of Clearwire and Sprint have come out against the merger, with Clearwire’s John Stanton recently saying that the deal would create a “huge challenge to competition in the industry.”

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

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