Yep, for a few days anyway the FCC’s temporary motto has been less talk, more action.
Yesterday they finally weighed in on the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger, having let the DOJ do all the heavy lifting thus far. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski notified the other three commissioners that he intends to refer the deal to hearing before an administrative judge. AT&T will have to show that the deal is ‘in the public interest’. This is being considered a blow to AT&T, since the hearing would not happen until after the anti-trust trial in February, and would itself take many months.
AT&T’s Larry Solomon called the action ‘disappointing’, which I think is probably not the word that actually crossed his lips first. Actually, I’ll go a little bit further and say that it looks to me like this turkey is pretty close to fully cooked. With the FCC piling on, there are enough roadblocks to make it doubtful that AT&T has a viable path forward here, divestments or not.
But actually, the more important action came over the weekend, as the FCC released the full text of its USF and intercarrier compensation reform plan. The quiet rustling you have heard since then is the sound of lawyers and regulatory specialists reading and rereading the fine print. They’re trying to figure out the implications to their businesses, because the effects will be felt across a wide spectrum of companies.
I imagine we will start hearing more detailed responses from the industry after the Thanksgiving holiday. It is 750 pages long and has thousands of footnotes. I tried to read it but fell asleep twice, so I’ll have to keep it around as a cure for insomnia. Bill & keep here we come, eventually, sort of, I think.
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