The clock is ticking again on the Federal Communications Commission's review of the pending merger between AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA.
The agency had stopped its informal clock for reviewing the $39 billion deal on July 20 to give the parties time to submit new material about efficiencies made possible by the merger.
The FCC, which considers whether telecom transactions are in the public interest, aims to complete merger reviews in 180 days—not counting the time the clock is stopped. That makes this day 83 of the AT&T deal, which was announced in March 2011.
“We have had several meetings with AT&T regarding the models and have posed a number of detailed questions concerning their construction and the assumptions they contain,” wrote Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Rick Kaplan to AT&T outside counsel Richard Rosen, a partner at Arnold & Porter.
The letter continued, “We have now received AT&T's answers to our specific questions as well as AT&T's confirmation that it believes our record is complete with respect to the models. Our understanding is that, unless specifically prompted by a request from the Commission or the Department of Justice, AT&T will not be submitting any further revisions to the models. Based on this understanding, we are restarting the informal clock effective today.”
AT&T welcomed the news. “We are pleased that the FCC has restarted the clock and we are confident that the commission will move expeditiously to complete its review of our merger with T-Mobile,” said Bob Quinn, AT&T’s senior vice president for federal regulatory issues, in a statement.
Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn, an opponent of the deal, praised the FCC for restarting the clock as well. “We are glad the Commission has decided that AT&T has had more than enough chances to make its case, and is restarting the clock on the merits. Now that AT&T has conceded that it has played its last card, it is time for the FCC and the DoJ to bring this proceeding to a close by rejecting the merger,” she said in a news release.