FCC Restarts Clock on AT&T T-Mobile Deal

on August 26 2011 2:33 PM

The FCC has heard enough, apparently; on Friday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that enough information had been received to go forward with the review of the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T.

The FCC's letter to AT&T, released on Friday and reported by the Dow Jones newswire via The Wall Street Journal, stated that the record is now complete and the two companies had provided the government agency enough information to 'restart the clock' on the review process.

The FCC uses an informal and non-binding 180-day 'clock' as its standard time-frame for reviewing deals, but extenuating circumstances (such the size of the companies involved and the effect that the deal might have on the overall economic landscape) frequently necessitate a much longer review period -- previous deals have been subjected to over a year of scrutiny by federal officials before a decision was reached.

The $39 billion merger of AT&T (the second-largest wireless provider in the United States, after Verizon) and T-Mobile (which competes with Sprint Nextel for the third or fourth position in market share) would undoubtedly transform the wireless market in a number of ways. After AT&T submitted considerable new data and arguments for the deal in July, the FCC chose to halt the clock 82 days after beginning the review to meet with the company and gather additional information.

Sprint in particular has opposed the deal, as have a number of consumer groups and members of the U. S. government. Among the critics is Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee's anti-trust sub-panel. On Friday, Sen. Franken reiterated his position in the face of labor union pleas, saying that despite AT&T's promises, the acquisition was more likely to raise consumer prices and eliminate jobs.

I am very suspicious of consolidation of power, said Sen. Franken. We know from their documents that some of their [AT&T's] claims on jobs may not be accurate.

 

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