FCC restarts 180-day shot clock on AT&T's T-Mobile acquisition

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday restarted the informal 180-day shot clock on the agency's review of AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

The commission stopped the clock last month after AT&T promised to provide additional economic and engineering analysis of the potential benefits of the merger. Those models were meant to lay out the expected efficiencies of combining the two firms in greater detail than previous filings.

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According to a letter from FCC Wireless Bureau chief Rick Kaplan, AT&T has since submitted the models, updated one of them and responded to a list of further questions from the FCC.

"We have now received AT&T's answers to our specific questions as well as AT&T's confirmation that it believes our record is complete with respect to the models," Kaplan said.

"Our understanding is that, unless specifically prompted by a request from the Commission or the Department of Justice, AT&T will not be submitting any further revisions to the models."

AT&T predictably welcomed the news; the deal has appeared to regain momentum after signs of opposition on Capitol Hill last month.

“We are pleased that the FCC has restarted the clock and we are confident that the Commission will move expeditiously to complete its review of our merger with T-Mobile," said Bob Quinn, AT&T senior vice president for federal regulatory matters.

"The engineering and economic models we have provided the Commission confirm the extensive capacity gains and corresponding consumer benefits that the combination of AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s complementary assets will produce."

Tom Sugrue, T-Mobile senior vice president for government affairs, said T-Mobile was pleased with the FCC decision.

"There is now an even stronger record before the Commission that supports prompt approval of our transaction and we would urge the FCC to act quickly to approve it. As the parties have shown, approval of the transaction will produce important public interest benefits including increasing mobile broadband deployment, spurring innovation and job growth," he said in a statement.

As a result, the commission has now restarted the shot clock on the review; Friday marks day 83. The FCC has pledged to do its best to keep its merger reviews within the outlined 180-day period, but that hasn't prevented Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee from calling for process reform at the agency, citing protracted merger reviews among other issues.


—This story was updated at 11:24 p.m.