Heh. Now that AT&T withdrew their application from the FCC’s consideration, the judge hearing the DoJ’s lawsuit against AT&T is considering dropping the lawsuit as well. This means that the T-Mobile deal is dead if this happens:
Lawyers for AT&T and T-Mobile, saying the government’s suit against them had turned into their best hope to complete the transaction, urged U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in Washington to keep the case on track for a Feb. 13 trial. The U.S. argued the case may be moot after AT&T withdrew its merger application at the Federal Communications Commission.
A decision to dismiss or delay the Justice Department’s case would put the deal all but out of reach for AT&T. The company’s strategy for regulatory approval rests on winning a favorable court decision it could use at the FCC to argue that the transaction isn’t anticompetitive. Without such a ruling, AT&T has no chance of getting the deal done, T-Mobile’s lawyer, George Cary, told Huvelle at a hearing yesterday.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
It looks like AT&T is withdrawing the T-Mobile deal from FCC consideration. Turns out that the FCC wanted to hold an administrative hearing on the whole thing, which definitely was not what AT&T wanted to have happen. A failure at the hearing would make the DoJ case against the deal that much harder to defend, and vice versa.
A good strategic move for AT&T, sure. But they may just be fighting the inevitable.
Looks like the judge in the Sprint vs. AT&T lawsuit has some doubts about Sprint’s standing in the case:
Sprint Nextel lost a bid on Monday to get access to masses of AT&T documents that it had hoped to use in its lawsuit aimed at stopping AT&T’s $39 billion acquisition of discount rival T-Mobile.
Huvelle, who is hearing both the private antitrust case and the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop the deal, challenged Sprint’s standing at least once during the hearing.
“You don’t stand in the shoes of the consumer or the Department of Justice,” she said.
A setback, definitely.
Looks like AT&T thinks that it just needs to sell a few tiny assets and the DoJ will be all okay with the T-Mobile deal. And MetroPCS seems to be the lucky winner:
MetroPCS Communications Inc. (PCS) has emerged as the frontrunner to buy assets from AT&T Inc. (T) and T- Mobile USA Inc. as those companies seek to win government approval for their $39 billion merger, according to people familiar with the matter.
Though the size of the deal isn’t yet definite, it would likely include subscribers and wireless spectrum, said the people, who couldn’t be identified because the talks aren’t yet public. The deal’s value is likely to be less than $4 billion, said one person.
Somehow I think $4 billion isn’t really enough here.
Turns out that rumor posted a while back was actually right. Now to see if this helps or hurts AT&T in their bid to buy T-Mobile.
AT&T moved to have Sprint’s lawsuit against it dismissed. Its reasoning?
…the two providers represent their own interests, rather than that of the public. AT&T further reveals that C Spire had pursued private negotiations prior to the lawsuit, where the regional provider agreed to support the merger “if AT&T would agree not to engage in facilities-based competition in Mississippi.” Ma Bell goes on to state, “This inappropriate proposal confirms that what Cellular South fears is competition, not lack of competition.”
Projecting, eh guys?
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.
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.
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.
The newest tactic by AT&T? Start throttling the top 5% of grandfathered unlimited users.
I mean, I’ve been expecting something like this for a while, en route to eliminating unlimited entirely. But their reasoning?
The move, which takes effect on October 1st, is a response to a “serious wireless spectrum crunch,” according to a message issued today. […] Even with this new plan in place, however, the company says that the spectrum problems still won’t be resolved — it does have a simple solution, however, explaining that “nothing short of completing the T-Mobile merger will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near term challenges.”
Yeah. I put $5 on them not stopping the throttling after the deal goes through.