FCC Combines Review AT&T's T-Mobile, Qualcomm Purchases


The Federal Communications Commission has combined its review of the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger with AT&T's purchase of spectrum from Qualcomm and stopped the clock on the latter transaction review at 180 days, effective Aug. 6.

The informal clock on AT&T/T-Mobile has already been stopped by the FCC to review new data from AT&T on the deals public-interest benefits.

"The commission's ongoing review has confirmed that the proposed transactions raise a number of related issues, including, but not limited to, questions regarding AT&T's aggregation of spectrum throughout the nation, particularly in overlapping areas," said the FCC in a letter to the companies. "As a result, we have concluded that the best way to determine whether either or both of the proposed transactions serve the public interest is to consider them in a coordinated manner at this time."

The FCC said that did not preclude it from separating the reviews again "at a later time."

AT&T is buying former broadcast spectrum that Qualcomm used to try unsuccessfully to create a new, nationwide pay video service. AT&T argues it will put it to a "higher, better use," advanced 4G wireless service. That is the same argument it is making for the public interest benefits of the T-Mobile purchase.