When AT&T and T-Mobile announced they had agreed to a merger, very few knew what to think. Sprint and Verizon, of course, were (and still are) concerned about what the merger will mean for competition in the wireless sector. And more than one T-Mobile customer told me they really didn't want to be assimilated into the AT&T "borg" or to be subject to higher rates that would likely result from the merger.
Regulators are also concerned about what the merger will do to competition in the wireless space, as well as how consumers will be affected. The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice must both sign off on the deal before it will be allowed to close. Though AT&T has couched its position carefully-noting that the merger will allow increased broadband access and more efficient use of wireless spectrum-the new company would further increase the size gap between the industry's largest providers and the plethora of smaller ones.
But the obstacles aren't stopping AT&T. The company made the next of many filings for the merger with the FCC. eWEEK reported AT&T filed the statement of public interest last week. In it, AT&T set out the benefits that will come from the merger-at least from its point of view. In addition to the increased broadband access the deal will allow, it will also create jobs.
The deal is not without its critics, however-one of which is the Rural Cellular Association, which has formally objected. The RCA calls the merger a horizontal one that will restrict consumer choice and result in job losses rather than job creation.
As we've said from day one, AT&T is in for a long, uphill battle if this merger is to eventually be approved.