The Circuit: AT&T/T-Mobile merger, Verizon strike, spectrum may be a debt panel issue

LEADING THE DAY: Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) said he is not happy with the answers he received from AT&T and T-Mobile about their proposed merger, and has asked Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski to hold a field hearing on the merger in Seattle.

“The answers I received did little to convince me that the merger of these two companies will benefit local jobs or provide customers with better service at affordable prices,” Inslee said in a statement.

In its letter to the congressman, AT&T highlighted the ways in which it believes the merger would be positive for job creation and consumers. Acknowledging that a merger would cause some overlap between the two companies, AT&T said that it nevertheless believes the merger will create jobs overall.

Public interest group Consumer Watchdog has also come out against the merger, saying that AT&T made similar promises about spectrum and pricing before its merger with Cingular. Consumer Watchdog’s lawyers continue to fight a nationwide class action lawsuit against the company in 2006. According to Bloomberg, AT&T said that Consumer Watchdog’s letter is “riddled with distortions and factual inaccuracies.”

Verizon strike: The Verizon strike continues as both sides are appealing to Congress to end the strike, Bloomberg reported. Tensions are rising, with workers staging larget protests and the company reportly planning to offer $50,000 payments to stop vandalism.

The company filed a Delaware lawsuit against unions on Tuesday, asking a judge to issue injunctions to stop vandalism and keep workers from blocking the entrance to its stores.

The Communications Workers of America said in an Aug. 8 statement that it “does not condone illegal action of any kind, and instructs its members to conduct all strike activities in accordance with labor law.”

Upton, Kerry on deficit panel: With Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) both named to the deficit panel, it’s likely that spectrum will become an issue in the debt negotiations, wrote David Kaut of St. Louis-based investment bank Stifel Nicolaus.

The appointments, he wrote, help “ensure that spectrum proposals will be in the mix for consideration as it attempts to work out an agreement to reduce deficits by a cumulative $1.5 trillion over the next decade.”

ICANN, ANA: The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers responded to criticism of its new generic TLD program from the Association of National Advertisers on Wednesday, saying that the program will not infringe on the rights of trademark holders.

ANA fired back a response late Wednesday. “We are not surprised by ICANN's response although disappointed that ICANN chose to defend its process and deny any doubt as to consensus,” ANA president and chief executive Robert Liodice said in a statement. ANA’s General Counsel, Doug Wood of Reed Smith, also chimed in, saying, “ANA has raised real concerns regarding economic losses, brand dilution and resultant privacy/cyber-security harms,” and adding that ICANN should return to the negotiating table.

Bono Mack asks for more info on Shady RAT: Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) sent a letter to McAfee asking for more information on its report on Shady RAT, a global hacking campaign uncovered by a recent McAfee report. Bono Mack, who chairs the House subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, has a history of dealing with cybersecurity issues. She has requested the company provide a briefing on the report. 

Next-generation 911: At a Philadelphia conference Wednesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his plan to improve 911 emergency service. The five-step action plan, he said, will allow people to report emergencies using texts, data, photos and video. The plan also proposes making location accuracy mechanisms to quickly identify where a 911 message is coming from, a governance framework between the FCC and states and technical standards for hardware and software.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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