Public-interest groups are asking the Federal Communications Commission to combine its review of AT&T's $39 billion bid for T-Mobile with its $1.9 billion play for spectrum from Qualcomm, saying not to do so would be "arbitrary and capricious."
In a letter to the commission filed Wednesday, Free Press, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge, Consumers Union and the Open Technology Initiative of the New America Foundation, commented, "The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would reshape the entire American wireless industry in a single stroke. Combined with the proposed transfer of Qualcomm spectrum licenses, approval of these transactions would further enable AT&T to suppress competition, stifle innovation and harm consumers."
The groups say that unless the Qualcomm spectrum license transfer is denied by the FCC, which they have asked the agency to do, the two reviews should be combined.
"Any determination of the public-interest benefit of the Qualcomm transfer that included a competitive analysis and yet failed to take into account the possibility of massive near-term consolidation with T-Mobile would be arbitrary and capricious," they said.
Public Knowledge said there would also be making a separate filing in which Sprint and other cellular carriers join it in calling for a combined review.