4G would grow
4G would grow

The claim: AT&T plans to build out its 4G-LTE network to cover 80% of the American population by 2013, and the company has said publicly that it is "very unlikely" that it will expand beyond that -- unless it can get hold of T-Mobile.

The response: The FCC noted that the basis for AT&T's public characterization of its decision to stop at an 80% deployment is a Jan. 3, 2011, internal e-mail from John Stankey, AT&T's business operations chief. In that e-mail Stankey described a meeting with CEO Randall Stephenson in which the company agreed to its 2013 roll-out plan but postponed a decision on its future roll-out for a later date.

"A decision not to say 'yes' at a particular moment is not the same as saying 'no' forever," the FCC said in its report. "We cannot agree that Mr. Stankey's e-mail suggests further consideration of LTE deployment had been ruled out, as opposed to left undecided. The record does not support AT&T's claim that ... future consideration of an expanded LTE deployment was a 'slim possibility.'"

Furthermore, the FCC said it's very unlikely that AT&T would hold tight to its 2013 deployment decision if the merger wasn't to go through, considering competitors' 4G roll-out plans. For instance, Verizon plans to cover 95% of Americans with its 4G-LTE network by the end of 2013. AT&T wouldn't just sit on its hands and let its biggest competitor maintain a much faster network.


By David Goldman @CNNMoneyTech - Last updated December 01 2011: 6:07 AM ET
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The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday blasted AT&T, accusing the telecom giant of lying about the benefits of its proposed merger with T-Mobile.