The Federal Communications Commission has restarted its informal shot clock on vetting the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
The commission had stopped the clock after AT&T said it would be submitting new data to bolster its arguments that the merger was pro-competitive and in the public interest.
The commission said Friday that AT&T had submitted the info and after meeting with the company and follow-up questions that were answered, Wireless Bureau chief Rick Kaplan said that, with the understanding that AT&T is done submitting any further revisions to its models, the clock has restarted. As such, Aug. 26 marks day 83 of the information 180-day clock.
"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," said AT&T senior vice president Bob Quinn. "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. Once approved, this merger will unleash billions of dollars in badly needed investment and will create many thousands of well-paying jobs."
"T-Mobile went further than just praising the timeline progress, suggesting in its statement that the FCC's decision improved the mergers chances for approval. Under the headline "FCC Decision Bolsters Prospects for Merger Approval," T-Mobile senior vice president Tom Sugrue said in a statement: "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. 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."
Public Knowledge, a big critic of the merger, saw the restart quite differently. "We are glad the Commission has decided that AT&T has had more than enough chances to make its case, and is restarting the clock on the merits," said PK President Gigi Sohn. "Now that AT&T has conceded that it has played its last card, it is time for the FCC and the DoJ to bring this proceeding to a close by rejecting the merger."
AT&T has said its $39 billion buy of T-Mobile will allow it to deploy advanced wireless service to over 97% of the country, just short of the President's goal of 98%.. Critics of the deal say it can expand wireless without the merger, and that the combo would give AT&T and Verizon too much control over the wireless market.