Despite suggesting that parties needed to make all arguments in their initial filings with the agency, the FCC has given AT&T this second chance to expand on its earlier rationales regarding supposed spectrum efficiencies and pricing effects of the transaction. Free Press and the growing number of businesses, public interest organizations and lawmakers that oppose this deal will need more time to review and analyze the new arguments contained in AT&T's latest filing, and Free Press has yet to receive the confidential version of the filing. Regardless of its latest spin, however, AT&T will still be hard-pressed to justify a deal that so clearly runs afoul of established antitrust principles and FCC precedent.
Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:
"New models or not, this is the same bad deal for American consumers, workers and businesses. After failing to make a credible case in the first go-round, AT&T is desperately trying a do-over. Yet while AT&T is spinning, support for the merger continues to unravel, from Capitol Hill to California.
"AT&T is asking the FCC for a do-over because its case for the merger was obliterated by the evidence. Free Press and others have demonstrated time and again before the FCC that both of AT&T's central claims — that the merger will lead to greater rural buildout and improved quality — are nothing more than a facade. AT&T could accomplish both of these goals without this merger and without killing off a major competitor.
"The FCC and Justice Department should know based on the evidence before them that AT&T would almost certainly build 4G LTE service to 97 percent of the country with or without the merger, and that only minimal investments are needed to expand AT&T's capacity and improve its service quality.
"The evidence clearly shows that the merger has few benefits and will harm all wireless users by raising their prices and diminishing their choices. Combine that with the overwhelming evidence that this takeover will kill tens of thousands of jobs, and it is clear why AT&T is scrambling to come up with new excuses for this inexcusable deal."