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FCC restarts clock on AT & T, T-Mobile deal

Fri, 08/26/2011 - 8:05am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

The FCC said today it has restarted the clock on its review of AT&T's merger with T-Mobile USA, ending a month-long wait as the agency reviewed new information about the deal.

The agency stalled its informal timer on the deal in July after AT&T made changes to the economic models it was using to justify the transaction.

"We have had several meetings with AT&T regarding the models and have posed a number of detailed questions concerning their construction and the assumptions they contain," FCC Wireless Bureau Chief Rick Kaplan said in a letter to AT&T. "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."

Today marks the 83rd day of the merger's review under the FCC's time clock, set to run out at 180 days.

AT&T regulatory affairs executive Bob Quinn expressed confidence the FCC would approve the transaction.

"We are pleased that the FCC has restarted the clock, and we are confident that the Commission will move expeditiously to complete its review of our merger with T-Mobile," Quinn said. "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."

AT&T said when the FCC stalled its review timeline in July that it would not "adversely impact the timeframe for approval of our transaction." The company still expects the deal to close early next year despite opposition from competitors, consumer groups and some politicians.

The FCC continues to gather information about the proposed acquisition. This week, the agency asked AT&T to provide additional information about its promise to expand its LTE footprint to residents in rural areas if its merger with T-Mobile is approved. The pledge has been an influential means of garnering support for the deal.

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