Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/15/fcc_begins_att_t_mobile_review/

FCC launches AT&T T-Mobile review

Gentlemen, start your lawyers, lobbyists, spinmeisters, arm-twisters...

By Rik Myslewski

Posted in Networks, 15th April 2011 01:10 GMT

The US Federal Communications Commission has begun the formal process of reviewing the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T.

The FCC on Thursday issued a Public Notice announcing that it had opened a docket on the matter, and issued a Protective Order outlining "procedures to limit access to proprietary or confidential information that may be filed in this proceeding."

Considering the power and money involved in an acquisition of this magnitude – on March 20, AT&T announced that it had agreed to acquire T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom in a $39bn deal – you can be sure that reams of documents, testimony, and opinion will be filed.

Accompanying the announcement of the pending acquisition, AT&T chairman and chief executive Randall Stephenson said: "This transaction delivers significant customer, share owner and public benefits that are available at this level only from the combination of these two companies with complementary network technologies, spectrum positions and operations."

Reaction was swift:

Cnet reports that during a press conference on Thursday the FCC explained its review would have two main thrusts. It will first determine whether the deal runs counter to either the US Communications Act – the guiding legislation – or FCC rules. It will then determine if the proposed acquisition is in the public interest.

That somewhat amorphous concept – the "public interest" – is a highly debateable term, especially in these days of growing corporate power, a divided Congress, an embattled FCC, and an administration that, quite frankly, has bigger battles on its hands as it engages in budgetary warfare with an emboldened opposition.

In the increasingly surrealistic environs of the US Congress, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, will hold its own hearings on the proposed merger on May 11.

The title of that event: "The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?" ®