Monthly Archives: August 2011

BREAKING: US seeks to block T-Mobile deal

The consumers have won!

The DOJ said the merger would lead to a situation in which just two companies — the AT&T-T-Mobile combination and Verizon Wireless — would dominate the mobile market. The new AT&T and Verizon would account for more than two thirds of the wireless subscribers and 78% of the wireless industry’s revenues.

Let’s hope the courts don’t overturn the DOJ ruling.

FCC asks for more information on LTE rollout

It seems that the FCC has some questions in light of AT&T’s inadvertent leak to the FCC:

However, by then, the damage was done. One of the key reasons AT&T has cited for its proposed merger with T-Mobile USA for $39 billion is its ability to expand its LTE coverage to about 95 percent of the U.S. population. But The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the story, said that the FCC is interested in learning more about why AT&T would want to spend $39 billion on a merger, rather than $3.8 billion to arrive at the same benefit.

We would like to know, too.

Lots of T-Mobile updates

A lot of updates this week, mostly good:

First off, the FCC has combined the acquisition of Qualcomm spectrum with the T-Mobile review. This means that AT&T now has to show that it needs both T-Mobile AND Qualcomm for its 4G strategy, and it means the FCC can review the overall impact on the mobile communications industry.

Speaking of reviews, it also appears that AT&T may have shown its hand. A letter leaked to the FCC (now removed) contradicts AT&T’s argument that it needs T-Mobile’s spectrum for LTE. In fact, they’re buying T-Mobile solely to eliminate its competition:

For the first time ever the document leaked yesterday pegs the cost of bringing AT&T’s LTE coverage from 80% to 97% at $3.8 billion — quite a cost difference from the $38 billion price tag on the T-Mobile deal. The letter even highlights how AT&T’s own marketing team is well aware that leaving LTE investment at 80% would leave them at a competitive disadvantage to Verizon, resulting in a repeat of the Luke Wilson map fiasco of a few years back, when Verizon made AT&T look foolish for skimping on 3G network investment and coverage.

On the legal front, Bursor & Fisher, a law firm specializing in dealing with mobile carriers, wants to kill the deal with a thousand cuts. Basically: use AT&T’s mandatory arbitration clause against them by keeping AT&T’s legal department very busy with mediation. I wonder if they’re going to regret having the Supreme Court uphold mandatory arbitration after the lawyers are done.

Finally, the Telecommunications Industry Association has come out supporting the deal. I can’t say that I’m surprised.