Feeds

FCC pulls AT&T-BellSouth merger vote (again)

Political hot potato

Business security measures using SSL

The Federal Communications Commission today postponed voting on the AT&T BellSouth merger until November.

The FCC represents the last regulatory hurdle for the two telcos to jump over before their $78bn marriage is sealed. The FCC had intended to vote on the matter yesterday and then again today; but the merger has proved to be a political hot potato.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice waved through the deal, imposing no conditions. It saw no serious competitive issues or consumer harm arising from the merger which sees the company become the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) in 23 states.

The DoJ consent prompted angry releases from Time Warner Telecom and Earthlink, who foresee the AT&T-BellSouth mammoth stomping over their business. It also provoked the ire of the FCC's two Democratic commissioners, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps

In a letter today, they asked their chairman for more time to consider the matter, and to accept further public submissions, before they voted. The time gained would also enable the "applicants to put forward their best proposals."

In a statement today, AT&T said it is "open to discussing with the Democratic FCC Commissioners reasonable conditions on the merger in order to obtain unanimous approval, so long as they do not affect our ability to deliver merger benefits to customers and shareowners, given the intensely competitive environment in which we operate."

The company thinks it has done enough already, but it needs to get this vote through before election time on 7 November. It adds: "We firmly believe, as do three foreign countries, 18 state commissions and the Department of Justice - every regulatory or legal entity that had an obligation to examine the benefits of this merger - that no conditions on this merger are necessary for this combination to be a public benefit.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin supports the merger, according to Reuters. As one of three Republicans on the Commission he has a majority, on paper, anyway. But fellow Republican Robert Dowell may have to recuse himself from voting, as he used to be a lobbyist for small telcos, fighting their corner against the big carriers. If he's out of the picture, Martin will need to get at least one Democrat to vote with him.

In response to Adelstein and Copp, Kevin Martin today agreed to open the floor to public responses for another 10 days. He said the FCC will vote on the matter on 3 November, if it had not voted before then. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.