AT&T blasts 'unfair' FCC report on T-Mobile deal

@CNNMoneyTech December 1, 2011: 2:05 PM ET
AT&T blasts 'unfair' FCC report on T-Mobile deal

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- In a rebuttal that didn't mince words, AT&T fired back at the Federal Communications Commission, calling its report on the company's proposed merger with T-Mobile unfair, biased, one-sided, speculative, and cherry-picked for facts.

"This is clearly not the fair and objective analysis to which any party is entitled, and which we have every right to expect," Jim Cicconi, head of AT&T's external affairs, said in a response posted Thursday morning on AT&T's website. "We believe that the utter absence of balance is clear, and demonstrates that the document lacks all credibility."

In a report released Tuesday, the FCC called out AT&T (T, Fortune 500) for lying about the number of jobs and amount of 4G availability its deal with T-Mobile would create. The regulator also said AT&T was being disingenuous in its claims that prices would fall and competition would increase as a result of the merger.

Disagreeing with the FCC's conclusions, AT&T's Cicconi said the FCC report was "so obviously one-sided that any fair-minded person reading it is left with the clear impression that it is an advocacy piece, and not a considered analysis."

AT&T believes the FCC may have already made up its mind to oppose the merger before analyzing the facts, he suggested.

As the FCC did in its own report, AT&T dives into the weeds to drag out data points and examples to back its own spin on the benefits of its proposed merger.

AT&T reiterated its claim that the deal would create, not cost, U.S. jobs -- a point the FCC viewed very skeptically. It also blasted the FCC's conclusion that AT&T is likely to significantly expand its future LTE deployment with or without a T-Mobile deal. That view is "based purely on speculation ... despite documents and sworn declarations by AT&T to the contrary," AT&T said.

In the ongoing battle of words, the FCC responded to AT&T's allegations by calling its analysis unbiased and thorough. It added that AT&T didn't bring any new arguments to the table on Thursday.

"The FCC's expert staff dispassionately analyzed all of the facts, including the arguments AT&T rehashes today," the agency said in a statement. "The professional staff's analysis was based on a 200,000-page record."

The FCC's report was the preliminary product of a detailed analysis the agency conducted while deciding whether or not to approve AT&T's proposed $39 billion T-Mobile takeover. The FCC was moving toward opposing the deal, and in response AT&T withdrew its application. It will re-seek the FCC's support if it clears other regulatory obstacles.

The chances of that are dimming. Most analysts now expect the deal to fall apart, and AT&T last week set aside $4 billion to cover the break-up fee it will owe if the deal dissolves.

The FCC sent a copy of its report to the Department of Justice, which is pursuing an antitrust case against AT&T's bid to buy its rival. That case -- a make-or-break milestone for AT&T -- is slated to go to trial in February.  To top of page

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