Arizona Regulators Clear AT&T/T-Mobile Merger, Claim No ‘Interruption' in Service

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The Arizona Corporation Commission has approved AT&T Inc.'s $39 billion bid to acquire T-Mobile USA, the first state regulatory body to sign off on the deal.

The commission, which regulates public utility companies in addition to securities and pipeline safety, gave its blessing to the merger without a hearing and with only one condition: that AT&T notify T-Mobile customers by mail of the proposed merger.

The commission ultimately concluded that the deal would not adversely affect customers in Arizona or prevent either AT&T or T-Mobile from providing “safe, reasonable, and adequate” service. State regulators were also persuaded by AT&T's commitment to extend its fourth-generation, or 4G, mobile broadband network to cover 97.3 percent of the country, which will benefit Arizona's less populated regions, where coverage is spotty at best.

“As indicated previously, there will be no interruption or decrease in the wireless services provided to the T-Mobile customers as a result of the acquisition," the Arizona commission explained in its June 27 order. “The acquisition will have no impact on the rates, terms and conditions of the AT&T subsidiaries' Arizona tariffs or on their ability to provide service.”

Only four other states—California, Hawaii, Louisiana and West Virginia—have moved to examine the acquisition.

AT&T needs approval from both the Justice Department, which examines whether mergers violate antitrust law, and the Federal Communications Commission, which decides whether such deals are in the public interest.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) endorsed the merger in a filing with the FCC last month, one of nearly 20 governors to do so.

“After a thorough review of the facts we are pleased the Arizona Corporation Commission formally approved our merger,” AT&T said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing the latest wireless broadband technology, 4G LTE, to the citizens of Arizona.”

By Paul Barbagallo