The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that it will hold an administrative hearing to examine AT&T’s planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA. The FCC said the hearing will not begin until after the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the merger, and that case isn’t expected to go to trial until February. The hearing was decided upon after the FCC concluded in a draft order that the AT&T/T-Mobile deal might not be in the best interest of the public and could result in job losses. The government agency also said that the burden will be on AT&T and T-Mobile to prove otherwise. Read on for more.
AT&T has long argued the deal will create “thousands” of jobs and improve wireless service in the United States. Additionally, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has argued that the merger will create 96,000 jobs and bring another 5,000 back from overseas call centers.
Sprint recently filed a lawsuit in opposition of the merger, arguing that it will eliminate competition in the United States. In addition, the FCC said that AT&T has failed to address exactly how the merger will create new careers.
Should the Department of Justice lose the trial against AT&T, the FCC’s planned proceeding will continue unchanged. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski also noted that the FCC has concluded a draft order — by no means final — that has approved AT&T’s planned purchase of Qualcomm’s wireless spectrum, which it was reviewing at the same time as the T-Mobile deal.
AT&T originally expected the merger to close in March 2012 and earlier this month said it will close later than expected.
Vonya McCann, Sprint’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs said Sprint’s statement on the matter is as follows:
As Chairman Genachowski said in August when the Justice Department filed its antitrust lawsuit against AT&T, the record before the FCC presented, ‘serious concerns about the impact of the proposed transaction on competition.’ That record is complete and more than justifies moving this matter to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing. We appreciate Chairman Genachowski’s leadership on this issue and look forward to the FCC moving quickly to adopt a strong hearing designation order.