Another potential roadblock for AT&T, T-Mobile deal

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California PUC takes rare step to scrutinize impact of $39 billion acquisition

AT&T's proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom faces another potential government hurdle.

From the Los Angeles Times:

In a split vote, state regulators decided to scrutinize AT&T Inc.'s proposed $39-billion purchase of T-Mobile USA to make sure that the deal is good for California's consumers and its economy.

The California Public Utilities Commission's approval Thursday marked a major departure from the commission's 16-year policy of taking a hands-off attitude toward the wireless industry.

Should the merger be approved, AT&T and Verizon would have more than 80 percent of the U.S. wireless market combined, with No. 3 Sprint in the mid-teens and regional carriers fighting for scraps. The U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Communications Commission and Congress -- and now the California PUC -- are trying to assess the impact of the deal on consumers.

The stakes are high in this case, and AT&T is in the middle of an extremely aggressive public lobbying campaign. To read the company's Public Policy Blog is to get a master class in shameless corporate spin.

Thursday's post, "It is Much Easier to Be Critical than to Be Correct," opens with:

"There is one overarching imperative that drives this merger: giving AT&T and T-Mobile USA customers the network capacity they need to enjoy the full promise of the mobile broadband revolution."

(Note to AT&T blog writers: Small thing, but I'd make it "the network capacity they need and deserve..." In other words, something they deserve that the government wants to take away!)

The winners will be America’s consumers because the extra capacity will enable us to offer them better service — faster data speeds and fewer dropped and blocked calls.

It's all about American consumers, at least for AT&T and T-Mobile USA. Sadly, there are those who want to take away our freedoms.

Opposing this transaction are Sprint and a few other wireless competitors, along with the same inside-the-beltway special interest groups that reflexively oppose all mergers.

I feel the "S" word coming on!

California's PUC says it will submit a final report on its investigation to the FCC in October. Will the commission come down on the side of AT&T and freedom-loving Americans, or on the side of special-interest groups that hate more jobs, innovation and faster data speeds?

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