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AT&T to FCC: You're totally 'one-sided' on T-Mobile deal

Carrier accuses federal regulators of "cherry-picking" some facts, and ignoring others, to push its view that the merger with T-Mobile USA would be bad for the nation.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
2 min read

AT&T didn't hold much back in a withering response to the Federal Communications Commission report that slammed its proposed takeover of T-Mobile USA.

The Dallas telecommunications giant, struggling to save its $39 billion deal, called the FCC report "one-sided" and suggested that the regulators went into the process looking to sink the merger.

"The document is so obviously one-sided that any fair-minded person reading it is left with the clear impression that it is an advocacy piece, and not a considered analysis," Jim Cicconi, head of external and legislative affairs for AT&T, said in a blog post. "In our view, the report raises questions as to whether its authors were predisposed."

Cicconi is responding to a recent FCC report that slams the deal, saying it would lead to huge job losses and less competition.

The FCC said that a merger of the two wireless carriers "would substantially lessen competition and its accompanying innovation, investment, and consumer price and service benefits."

Cicconi, however, said the tone of the report suggests that the regulators chose to use some facts, while ignoring others, to build its case that a union of AT&T and T-Mobile would be harmful to the nation. He complained that the FCC's report suggests that regulators did not give it a fair and objective ruling.

Following the blog post, the FCC's chief of consumer and governmental affairs bureau, Joel Gurin, expressed his deep concern about Cicconi's comments, the Verge reported.

Screenshot by the Verge

AT&T had attempted to halt the release of the report by withdrawing its merger application from the FCC last week. The company is instead focusing on fighting a Justice Department lawsuit also seeking to block the deal. The trial doesn't begin until February.

Cicconi went on to reiterate its principal arguments for the deal: the expansion of 4G LTE to more people, the creation of jobs, the easing of spectrum constraints, and the need for T-Mobile to obtain capital for its own investments.

Media advocacy group Free Press was among several groups that defended the FCC report.

"It's baffling that AT&T is choosing to double down on its now-proven lies about job creation, investment and competition in the face of the FCC's meticulous and unimpeachable analysis of this merger," said Free Press director S. Derek Turner. "Ma Bell is used to getting its way, and when it doesn't, it lashes out with false claims and destructive rhetoric."

While AT&T continues to fight for the merger, things aren't looking so great for the deal. AT&T and T-Mobile's parent, Deutsche Telekom, are reportedly working on an alternate plan that would involve sharing wireless resources if the deal is ultimately rejected.