FCC official says AT&T-T-Mobile deal faces steep climb

In an interview with C-Span, FCC Commissioner expresses concern about AT&T's $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile.

From the moment AT&T announced a $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile almost two weeks ago, many industry watchers agreed that the deal would face close scrutiny from federal regulators. The deal would, after all, lump an estimated 130 million subscribers under one carrier and make AT&T the only major GSM provider in the country.

AT&T has yet to file the official merger documents with the Federal Communications Commission, but one agency official already has said the deal may face a "very steep climb." In an interview with C-Span that will air today, Commissioner Michael Copps, the senior Democrat at the FCC, called the transaction "huge" and "paradigm-altering." He also said it concerns him more than January's Comcast-NBC Universal merger , a marriage that Copps voted against.

"You will remember in the Comcast merger, I said at the outset it would have been a very steep climb for me," Copps said according to an interview transcript published by Politico. "This is maybe an even steeper climb from the standpoint of a lot of power and a lot of influence given to one company in a world where two companies are going to control, like, 80 percent of the spectrum."

Copps predicted that having one fewer carrier in the market could slow down future incentives auctions for the available wireless spectrum. Though he wouldn't mention specific conditions for approval, Copps said the FCC will seriously consider whether it would call for divestitures in certain markets. "It comes down to all the considerations of whether this serves the public interest, convenience, and necessity," he said. "That's our charge. I hope that we will fulfill it."

About the author

Senior Managing Editor Kent German leads the CNET Reviews editors in San Francisco. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he still writes about the wireless industry and occasionally his passion for commercial aviation.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
A roomy range from LG (pictures)
This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)
Google Lunar XPrize: Testing Astrobotic's rover on the rocks (pictures)
CNET's 15 favorite How Tos of 2014