• AT&T Bid For T-Mobile Won't Be an Easy Sell to FCC

    On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal delved deeper into the hot button issue of AT&T's proposed purchase of T-Mobile, a move that, if approved, would effectively reducing competition in the mobile industry and slash the number of major US carriers to just three. Speaking with the publication yesterday, an anonymous official at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expressed pessimism about the proposal, saying that the chances of AT&T convincing the FCC chairman to sanction its planned $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA are not necessarily great.

    "There's no way the chairman's office rubber-stamps this transaction. It will be a steep climb to say the least," the FCC official tells the Wall Street Journal. AT&T, on the other hand, is putting forward a very confident public face, offering one sanguine comment after the next about the pending deal. "We understand that Congress, the DOJ, the FCC, as well as wireless consumers will have questions about the transaction. We look forward to answering and addressing those questions," said AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris. "We are confident that the facts will demonstrate that the deal is in the public interest and that competition will continue to flourish."

    But just this past Tuesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reiterated his agency's commitment "to encouraging a competitive marketplace." "While we're still working through details of a data-roaming framework, I believe the core proposition is beyond dispute: healthy competition produces greater innovation and investment, lower prices, and better service," Genachowski said, although neither he or his fellow FCC commissioners have formally commented on the record about AT&T's proposed takeover.

    If AT&T has its druthers, it will acquire T-Mobile and consequently become the largest wireless carrier in the nation with a whopping estimated 130 million subscribers. Given the shear magnitude of that possible reality, many industry analysts believe it could take up to a year for the FCC to reach an ultimate decision on the pending deal.

    Source: Wall Street Journal
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