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

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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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