OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate to grill AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint chiefs

SENATE ANNOUNCES MERGER WITNESSES: The Senate Judiciary Antitrust subcommittee announced the name of the witnesses for the May 11 hearing on AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile. It's titled "The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?" 

The lineup: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, Cellular South CEO Victor "Hu" Meena, Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn, Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen. 

BACKDROP: The subcommittee is holding the first of what is expected to be four hearings on the merger, spanning the Senate and House Commerce and Judiciary Committees. It's a deadlocked 3-3 panel: Stephenson, Humm, and Cohen vs. Sohn, Meena, and Hesse.

Speaking of the merger…

Sprint nabs Wicker aide: Sprint has picked up new government-relations help in Hugh Carroll, the telecom legislative assistant to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the senator's office and the company confirmed to The Hill. Carroll succeeds Melinda Lewis in Sprint's D.C. office. Lewis was director of government relations at Sprint and has moved to the Fritts Group. 

Sprint picks up grassroots PR firm: Sprint has hired Weber Merritt, a grassroots public relations firm, according to industry sources. That's along with public relations help from APCO Worldwide, Glen Echo Group and Abernathy MacGregor Group, as Sprint plays hardball against AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, which would leave the company trailing a distant third behind the top two wireless companies. 

Genachowski denies discussing net neutrality with Obama: During a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Intellectual Property subpanel on Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski told lawmakers he didn't discuss net neutrality directly with President Obama before the commission passed its controversial net-neutrality rules in December.


ITEM 1: "The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to extend the outage reporting requirements in Part 4 of the rules to interconnected VoIP and broadband service providers to promote the resiliency of America’s 9-1-1 system and the country’s critical communications infrastructure."

ITEM 2: "The Commission will consider, as part of the Commission’s regulatory reform efforts, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to remove outdated regulations governing the exchange of telephone traffic between U.S. and foreign carriers that are no longer necessary to protect consumers and competition, while strengthening protections against anticompetitive practices by foreign carriers."

ITEM 3: "The Commission will consider, as part of the Commission’s Data Innovation Initiative, a First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to eliminate unnecessary reporting requirements regarding international telephone service, while streamlining and modernizing remaining international data reporting to ensure continued relevance in light of changing markets."

Zuckerberg buys House in Palo Alto: The Facebook chief bought some property, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "Long after he became a billionaire, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg still rented modest digs. But now one of Silicon Valley's top tech celebrities has become a first-time homeowner, recently buying a large house in Palo Alto that is a 10-minute drive from what will soon be Facebook's new corporate campus in Menlo Park ...The real estate transaction did not close under Zuckerberg's name. However, public records requests revealed a trail of clues leading to a property purchased for $7 million." 

BONO MACK ON SONY: - Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) criticized Sony again on Thursday for waiting a week before notifying customers that their private data had been breached as part of two attacks on the firm's online gaming networks. On an upcoming episode of C-SPAN's "The Communicators" she refers to Sony's suggestion that the vigilante hacker group Anonymous is behind the attacks as speculation. Anonymous has denied responsibility.