PublishedJune 2, 2011

FCC Receives Thousands of Petitions To Deny AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile

FCC officials are now wading through thousands of petitions to deny AT&T’s FCC Application to takeover T-Mobile. Unlike DOJ, complaints to the FCC are public, so it takes some bravery for companies that must do business with AT&T to complain.
Iowa Wireless, a subsidiary of T-Mobile, is getting some attention for filing a petition asking the FCC to deny the request to transfer the licenses of T-Mobile and its subsidiaries to AT&T. It states, “The chilling effect that AT&T’s proposed acquisition has on the continued deployment and advancement of wireless services in rural areas already is being felt.”
Trade associations offered some cover for tech companies, apps makers, health IT companies and independent carriers that  are concerned about what would happen to their business with less wireless competition.
CCIA warned that going back to a duopoly would harm innovation and consumers and asked the FCC to reject the takeover.
So did the Rural Telecommunications Group and the Rural Cellular Association, as a more dominant AT&T could further bully its competitors.
Comptel challenged the FCC to solve the spectrum crunch for all wireless competitors and questioned whether buying a spectrum strained competitor could really help AT&T with its alleged spectrum issues.
Sprint  was even more blunt, calling AT&T’s failure to build out its own spectrum a problem of its own making – and one that did not deserve a government “bailout” with this merger proposal.
Dish and Earthlink both asked the FCC to block the merger outright. What’s interesting is that Dish was a leading advocate for allowing merely the imposition of conditions on Comcast-NBCU (CMCSA), but in its filing Tuesday it said the FCC should simply deny AT&T/T-Mobile because of the threat to competition. Dish said the merger could hamper its ability to offer wireless broadband by strengthening AT&T’s “ability and incentive to leverage its power in the wireless broadband market to dominate the video market.”
The State of New York’s Department of Public Service also is asking the FCC to block the deal because wireless phone and Internet access is critically important and consumers “must be protected against potential harm caused by further consolidation in wireless voice and broadband markets.” New York noted the takeover “will have significant anticompetitive impacts that will be felt, in particular, in New York State.”

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