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Posted at 03:17 PM ET, 07/21/2011

FCC temporarily halts review of AT&T merger with T-Mobile

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), speaks at a press conference. (Joshua Roberts - BLOOMBERG)
The Federal Communications Commission has stopped its 180-day review “shot clock” for AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile, saying it needs more time to evaluate new information AT&T promises to deliver to the commission later this month.

The FCC said that in the past week AT&T has indicated it now relies on new models to support the approval of its merger.

“Indeed, AT&T is now expressly relying on these models to bolster its arguments concerning the size of the efficiencies made possible by the merger as weighed against the potential anti-competitive effects,” FCC wireless bureau chief Rick Kaplan wrote in a letter to AT&T’s legal counsel.

The agency wouldn’t comment in detail on the new models, which will be presented July 25.

But AT&T said the information doesn’t indicate a new direction in its arguments. The company said the information will be related to economic models already presented to regulators.

“AT&T has developed additional economic evidence that further confirms the tremendous efficiencies and consumer benefits resulting from this transaction,” a AT&T spokesman said. “We do not expect this will adversely impact the timeframe for approval of our transaction.”

AT&T has said it expects reviews by the Justice Department and FCC to be complete by March 2012.

The FCC said the shot clock — which creates an informal timeframe for the agency’s review — stopped on Wednesday. It didn’t give a specific day for resuming the clock, saying it would do so “once the new evidence has been provided to us in a format and with sufficient explanation and back-up information to enable us, and third parties entitled to have access to the information, to adequately evaluate it.”

The FCC has in past mergers stopped shot clocks to review additional materials. It did so with Comcast’s joint venture with NBC Universal last year.


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By  |  03:17 PM ET, 07/21/2011

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