In this case, the hot air balloon is the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, and the heavy objects are customers and spectrum. After last week’s announcement that the Federal Communications Commission will hold a hearing on the merger, independent of the Department of Justice hearing set for February, it looks like AT&T might try to sell off more assets.
ATT’s proposal is likely to include the divestiture of a higher share of customers and lower percentage of spectrum, said the person familiar with the matter. The company needs more capacity to serve users as it adds customers and more of them adopt data-intensive smartphones.
AT&T wants to hold on to as much spectrum as possible as it tries to enter the 4G market. The problem with this proposal, according to the article at least, is that no other companies are really in a position to buy these assets. Verizon can afford them, but probably won’t pursue them due to antitrust issues, and other wireless carriers most likely don’t have enough spare change lying around.
AT&T has also withdrawn its application for FCC approval on the deal, choosing instead to go exclusively through the Justice Department, which, of course, has filed suit to stop the deal.