AT&T blasts FCC staff report on T-Mobile deal as unfair, one-sided

AT&T blasted a staff report from the Federal Communications Commission opposing its proposed takeover of T-Mobile USA on Thursday, accusing the commission of cherry-picking facts to support its case and suggesting the review's outcome was determined before it began.

"We expected that the AT&T/T-Mobile transaction would receive careful, considered and fair analysis. Unfortunately, the preliminary FCC staff analysis offers none of that," said AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs Jim Cicconi in a blog post.

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"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. In our view, the report raises questions as to whether its authors were predisposed."

The report concluded the merger of the two firms would reduce competition in the wireless market and therefore not be in the public interest. FCC staff also rejected AT&T's claims the merger would produce jobs and spur additional investment, concluding the merger would result in layoffs and that AT&T would likely upgrade its network with or without buying T-Mobile.

Cicconi accused the report of highlighting facts that support its views while ignoring facts that don't. He argued the report makes it clear AT&T didn't get a fair hearing or objective treatment during the review.

"Where facts were lacking, the report speculates, with no basis, and then treats its own speculations as if they were fact. This is clearly not the fair and objective analysis to which any party is entitled, and which we have every right to expect," Cicconi said.

Specifically, Cicconi took issue with the report's assertion that AT&T will expand next-generation wireless deployment from 80 percent of the population to 97.4 percent even without the merger. AT&T has said it won't build out its network if the deal is rejected, claiming the cost would be prohibitive. The report argues competition will force the firm to do so regardless.

Cicconi also calls out the report for claiming the merger won't create jobs, citing both AT&T's broadband investment plans and its pledge to bring 5,000 call center jobs back to the U.S. that are currently based abroad.

"This notion — that government spending on broadband deployment creates jobs and economic growth, but private investment does not — makes no sense," Cicconi said.

Finally, Cicconi criticized the report for largely ignoring the spectrum constraints faced by AT&T and how the merger will help alleviate the crunch driven by increasing data consumption on smartphones. He also cites the presence of local wireless competitors and T-Mobile's record of losing customers as evidence the merger won't harm competition in the wireless market.