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AT&T merger with T-mobile countdown restarted

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The FCC has restarted the review process looking at the impact of AT&T's merger with T-Mobile USA, which should now complete in early December if nothing else goes wrong.

The review was started in April, and was supposed to take 180 days, but the FCC halted the countdown on day 83 to provide AT&T with more time to submit its arguments. AT&T has now apparently provided "new models to bolster its arguments" and the clock has restarted with just enough time to allow a ruling before the end of the year.

At risk is the $39bn deal for T-Mobile USA to merge with AT&T, creating a US network operator that would dwarf the competition. The arguments in favour talk about efficiencies of scale leading to cheaper and better services, while those against worry about the threat of monopoly and market control.

AT&T has submitted reams of evidence and has already been asked to justify its assumptions and model construction, including specific details which were requested earlier this month.

Those details are now apparently in the FCC's hands, and so the process can continue.

Such stoppages aren't rare, and this is a very important deal – and therefore worthy of careful consideration. The 180-day clock is not enforced, so the FCC could take longer, but that would be unusual as it is to the benefit of all parties involved to have a timetable by which to operate.

That should put the decision in December, but AT&T told The New York Times that it didn't expect the whole process to complete until early next year, when all the government departments will have seen the merits of the merger. ®

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