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FCC Staff Recommends Against AT&T, T-Mobile Merger

11/22/2011 04:18:44 PM Eastern

Washington - The Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) staff investigating the proposed merger of
AT&T and T-Mobile has come out against the proposal, contending the merger
would result in unprecedented concentration in the wireless industry, FCC
officials said.

As a result, FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski is circulating a draft order that would refer the proposal to an
administrative law judge for further consideration. By law, the FCC is not
allowed to deny the proposal without first sending it to an administrative law
judge, FCC officials said. The judge's decision would then go back to the FCC
for final review.

The FCC, on the other hand, could
approve the merger or approve it with conditions without sending it to an
administrative law judge, officials said.

If the full FCC votes to send the
issue to a judge, the trial-like proceeding would take a significant number of
months, one official said. And the trial would not begin, according to the
draft order, until after the Department of Justice's antitrust suit is heard. A
federal court is expected to begin hearing that case early next year.

In its findings, the FCC staff
determined that the merger would significantly diminish competition, create the
largest nationwide increase in wireless concentration in history, and not result,
as AT&T has claimed, in a significantly broader 4G rollout than would have
otherwise occurred.

 The staff also said the merger massive job
losses, not an increase in jobs as claimed by AT&T and T-Mobile.

The significantly diminished
competition couldn't possible serve the public interest, the FCC staff
concluded.

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