FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has requested an administrative hearing to discuss AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. The FCC doesn’t often request a hearing like this and such a move is not good news for the two companies. Further discussion by the FCC adds a layer of complexity to the deal and will extend the time needed for the FCC to make a decision.
The merger is already facing opposition by the Department of Justice which recently filed a lawsuit to halt the acquisition. Sprint has also been a vocal opponent to the deal claiming it would create a monopoly and limit choice in the US wireless industry. The FCC will hold a conference this afternoon at 3:30pm ET to discuss this latest development. We will update this post with additional details when they are made available.
Update: Sascha Segan of PC Magazine was on the conference call and summarized the events. Basically, the FCC is against the AT&T and T-Mobile merger, but it is giving both sides a final chance to argue their case in front of the commission. It will be a trial of sorts and a judge will rule on the deal when it is done. This ruling will then be reviewed by the full commission. Nothing will happen until the DOJ lawsuit blocking the AT&T/T-Mobile deal has been decided. If the DOJ loses, then the FCC hearing will take place. The FCC commissioners are currently reviewing the draft of this hearing and will vote on it soon. If they approve it, and it looks like they will, the order will be made public. Details aside, it looks like both the DOJ and the FCC are against the merger.