Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
The Federal Communications Commission Aug. 26 restarted its informal 180-day “shot clock” on its review of AT&T Inc.'s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA. The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau halted its shot clock last month to allow AT&T to file a new engineering and economic analysis to justify the takeover.
In a letter Aug. 26, Wireless Bureau Chief Rick Kaplan confirmed that AT&T has submitted the models, with updates and answers to a set of questions from the FCC. In the new filings, AT&T has said that its merger simulations predict that “industry output will rise and [the] average price adjusted for quality will fall as a result of the transaction.” Overall, AT&T predicts that the “proposed transaction will relieve significant capacity constraints faced by both companies and lead to improved service quality and expanded output of wireless service, among other public benefits.”
Much of the actual data AT&T has filed with the FCC, however, is listed as confidential, and parts of letters accompanying the filings are also redacted.
“We have now received AT&T's answers to our specific questions as well as AT&T's confirmation that it believes our record is complete with respect to the models,” Kaplan said in the letter. “Our understanding is that, unless specifically prompted by a request from the commission or the Department of Justice, AT&T will not be submitting any further revisions to the models. Based on this understanding, we are restarting the informal clock effective today.”
August 26 marks Day 83 under the FCC's shot clock.
AT&T welcomed the news, saying in a statement that the company now hopes the FCC will move expeditiously to complete its review.
“The engineering and economic models we have provided the Commission confirm the extensive capacity gains and corresponding consumer benefits that the combination of AT&T's and T-Mobile's complementary assets will produce,” said Bob Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president-federal regulatory in an e-mailed statement. “Once approved, this merger will unleash billions of dollars in badly needed investment and will create many thousands of well-paying jobs.”
Tom Sugrue, T-Mobile's senior vice president for government affairs, also praised the decision.
“There is now an even stronger record before the commission that supports prompt approval of our transaction and we would urge the FCC to act quickly to approve it,” he said. “As the parties have shown, approval of the transaction will produce important public interest benefits including increasing mobile broadband deployment, spurring innovation and job growth.”
The FCC's 180-day shot clock was instituted in 2000 but has seldom been adhered to for major industry deals. Based on a number of estimates, over the past 10 years, the FCC has taken, on average, 320 days to complete major merger reviews.
The FCC narrowly missed the 180-day threshold for its review of the Sprint-Nextel merger, but required 505 days to vet the proposed merger between XM and Sirius and 429 days to finalize Comcast Corp.'s and Time Warner's acquisition of Adelphia Communications' cable assets. More recently, the FCC's review of the $30 billion merger between Comcast and NBC Universal lasted 355 days, which included a stoppage of its 180-day shot clock.
The commission originally established the shot clock to appease critics in Congress. Following the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a series of merger reviews by the FCC—its review of the SBC-Ameritech merger, which lasted 439 days, and its review of the Bell Atlantic-GTE merger, which lasted 623 days, among others—elicited proposals to either establish a new, fixed, 60-day review timetable or eliminate the agency's merger review authority altogether.
AT&T needs approval from the FCC, which decides whether deals are in the public interest, and the Justice Department, which examines whether mergers violate antitrust law.
By Paul Barbagallo
For the letter, visit http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2011/db0826/DOC-309294A1.pdf .
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)