AT&T – T-Mobile deal may hit a wall at the FCC. Unless it doesn’t.
There are a couple ways to read the story that just came out in the Wall Street Journal about the proposed mega-merger. “There’s no way the chairman’s office rubber-stamps this transaction. It will be a steep climb to say the least,” said an unnamed FCC official. The issue seems to be roaming and whether the acquisition of the fourth largest carrier by the second would give customers a fair shake. The FCC currently requires carriers to offer voice call roaming to rivals but haven’t required the same for data traffic. Smaller phone companies have been calling for data roaming rules for several years over the objections of larger carriers. Data traffic is growing at a faster rate rate than voice traffic, as more people use smart phones to access the web.
So either this is a legit possibility that the deal may be blocked entirely OR it’s just some spin control and a chance to look tough for an agency that always seems to ultimately approve deals.
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