The Washington Post

The Circuit: AT&T plans to acquire T-Mobile, Google says Gmail blocked in China, Facebook acquires app maker

LEADING THE DAY: AT&T announced Sunday afternoon that it plans to buy T-Mobile, which would lead to the merger of the second- and fourth-largest mobile networks in the country. According to a press release from AT&T, it will pay $39 billion to T-Mobile USA’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom. The deal would give Deutsche Telekom an approximately 8 percent equity stake in AT&T and a representative on the AT&T board of directors.

The Communications Workers of American issued a statement in support of the deal, declaring it a victory for broadband proponents. Meanwhile, consumer groups such as Free Press and the Media Access Project quickly issued statements warning that the deal will decrease competition and could create a duopoly in the American mobile market between Verizon and AT&T.

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) both issued statements Sunday night calling for congressional oversight hearings of the deal. Senate Commerce Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said that the committee will review the details of the acquisition and called for the Justice Department and the FCC to “leave no stone unturned” as it examines how the deal will impact American consumers. FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker also issued a statement, saying that she hopes the review “will be careful, timely and focused on competitive issues directly related to the proposed review transaction.”

Google says Gmail blocked in China: In another spat between Google and China, the company said the Chinese government is disrupting Gmail service in China. A Google spokesperson told the Associated Press that Gmail users in China have been reporting service disruption since late January, but that the company can find no problems on its end. “This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail,” the company said in a statement. According to Google, the blocking is more sophisticated than others in the past, as it only blocks some services some of the time rather than a unilateral block of all services.

Facebook acquires app maker Snaptu: Snaptu, an Israeli startup that makes apps for feature phones, announced in a blog post that it has agreed to be acquired by Facebook. The acquisition will help Facebook reach even more people, as the majority of mobile users in the world do not have smartphones.

Reports in the Israeli media say the deal is worth up to $70 million, TechCrunch reported. The acquisition is expected to close in a few weeks.

Kevin Rose resigns from Digg: Digg founder Kevin Rose announced in a Twitter message that he will resign from the company he started in 2004. TechCrunch reported Friday night that Rose has already raised $1 million for a new, as yet unknown start-up. Digg underwent a major redesign earlier this year, which upset many of its regular users.

ICANN approves .xxx: On Friday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved .xxx as a top-level domain name for adult Web sites. Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence E. Strickling told The Washington Post that the administration is “disappointed that ICANN ignored the clear advice of governments worldwide, including the U.S.” because the decision will encourage more government Internet blocking.

Rovio says it will have an IPO: According to Reuters, the chairman of Rovio’s board told the Finnish magazine Talouselama the company is planning to go public in the next five years. The company, which produces the game Angry Birds, recently announced that it had raised $42 million in funding from investors, including Skype co-founder Niklaus Zennstroem. Zennstroem was also named to Rovio’s board.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.


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