FCC restarts 180-day clock for review of AT&T’s takeover of T-Mobile

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The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it has restarted the informal 180-day clock for its review of AT&T’s proposed $39-billion takeover of T-Mobile USA.

The FCC paused the clock on its review process July 20 after asking for more information ‘concerning the size of the efficiencies made possible by the merger as weighed against the potential anti-competitive effects’ of the deal, said Rick Kaplan, chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, in a letter to the two companies.

Now that AT&T and T-Mobile have delivered what the FCC asked for, the regulator will begin again its scrutinizing of the potential takeover. The FCC originally began its 180-day clock 83 days ago, Kaplan said.

The decision to stop and now restart the review period is the latest delay for AT&T, the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, in its push to consume T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S.


AT&T contends that buying T-Mobile will enable it to meet the increasing demand for high-speed wireless service. T-Mobile says it may not be able to compete in the long term with AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel if it isn’t purchased by AT&T.

Many consumer rights groups and rivals have come out against the proposed deal, arguing that it would make the wireless market less competitive and result in higher prices. Among the most vocal opponents has been Sprint, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier.

The FCC is reviewing the AT&T and T-Mobile deal together with a proposed $1.9-billion agreement between Qualcomm and AT&T that, if approved, would also give AT&T control over licenses to wireless spectrum used by 300 million people nationwide.

The Justice Department is looking into possible antitrust concerns over the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger as well.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles