The FCC has presented further obstacles to one of the largest mergers in telecommunications history.
In yet another setback for the prospective AT&T/T-Mobile merger FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski passed on a draft order seeking further administrative hearings for the deal on Tuesday.
In August The Department of Justice filed for a federal anti-trust lawsuit where deputy attorney general James M. Cole said that the deal would “result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower-quality products for mobile wireless services.”
Chairman Genachowski’s draft order will be sent to all members of the FCC who will then decide whether or not to amend or deny it.
In the event the order is passed the merger decision would be presented in front of a judge that would preside over the prospective administrative hearing.
The last colossal merger proposal presented before a similar hearing was refuted between Direct TV and EchoStar about 10 years ago.
The FCC and the Department of Justice haven’t been the only opposition to the merger. Telecom rival Sprint has aggressively lobbied against the prospective deal where CEO Dan Hesse has argued that it would produce “a 1980s-style duopoly” causing “irreparable harm” to the U.S. economy.
Sprint’s SVP of Government affairs promptly issued a statement highly favoring the FCC’s decision on Tuesday saying it “more than justifies moving this matter to an administrative law judge for a hearing.”
Although AT&T issued a statement in heated condemnation of the Chairman’s efforts saying, “The FCC’s action today is disappointing. It is yet another example of a government agency acting to prevent billions in new investment and the creation of many thousands of new jobs at a time when the US economy desperately needs both.”
A time frame hasn’t been given by the commission on when it would reach a decision.