Sprint, Dish Network ask FCC to hurry up with AT&T, T-Mobile hearing

Sprint, Dish Network and other allies tell the FCC to get on with it already and designate a hearing regarding the AT&T and T-Mobile merger.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

The debate over whether or not AT&T will be able to buy out T-Mobile has been a long and drawn-out journey since March.

Naturally, there are many people and corporations who are tired of this already. Thus, Sprint and Dish Network filed ex parte letters with the Federal Communications Commission pleading for the Commission to issue a hearing designation order already.

Here are excerpts from both filings, starting with Sprint:

...We urged the Commission to act promptly to designate AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Consistent with Sprint’s pleadings, and as described in more detail in the attached, we discussed the substantial harms to the public interest that would result if the takeover were approved. We also commended the Commission for its thorough and intensive review of the transaction. The pleading cycle in this proceeding closed on June 20, and the staff and Commissioners have conducted dozens of meetings to analyze the competitive and other public interest harms as well as the claimed benefits of the proposed merger.

As we discussed in our meetings, the detailed, fact-based record before the Commission demonstrates that approval of AT&T’s takeover would harm consumers and tip the wireless industry inexorably toward duopoly.

And, now chiming in from Dish Network:

During the meeting, DISH Network urged the Commission to swiftly designate for hearing the AT&T takeover of T-Mobile, now that the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to block the merger. Timing is critical, and delay only benefits AT&T. No further delay is warranted, because there is no set of conditions or divestures that would resolve the substantial harms posed to the public and to competition.

The greatest threat posed by this merger is the loss of T-Mobile as a leader in introducing innovative technologies, as well as its presence as a national competitor to discipline AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile can survive and thrive after the pending merger is denied. The longer the merger proceeding lasts, however, the more harm is done to T-Mobile. The sooner the Commission acts, the sooner T-Mobile can refocus its efforts on finding ways to grow its business. Denial of the AT&T takeover of T-Mobile also promotes competition from new entrants. As DISH Network discussed in its Petition to Deny and replies, the proposed merger could harm DISH Network’s ability to enter the market to provide wireless broadband.

Advocacy group Public Knowledge and the Diogenes Telecommunications Project have also filed similar letters, the latter even writing more simply that the FCC "to get on with it and designate these applications for hearing. No other course will suffice."

The latest turn of events was also on the side of Sprint and friends as the attorney general of Puerto Rico joined the U.S. Department of Justice and seven states in a lawsuit filed by the DOJ in August against the merger on alleged antitrust law violations.


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