FCC to Review AT&T's T-Mobile and Qualcomm Bids Together
The Federal Communications Commission recently informed AT&T that rather than review its planned purchase of 700MHz spectrum from Qualcomm and planned acquisition of T-Mobile separately, it will review both purchases together. In a letter to AT&T and Qualcomm, the FCC explained, "The Commission's ongoing review has confirmed that the proposed transactions raise a number of related issues, including, but not limited to, questions regarding AT&T's aggregation of spectrum throughout the nation, particularly in overlapping areas. As a result, we have concluded that the best way to determine whether either or both of the proposed transactions serve the public interest is to consider them in a coordinated manner at this time." The FCC did say that this doesn't preclude the acquisitions from being reviewed separately down the road, but given their weight, the FCC says it has to take all the spectrum issues by both deals into consideration at the same time. AT&T and Qualcomm had recently petitioned the FCC to speed up its review of the deal, which was first announced six months ago. This decision is a bit of a setback for AT&T, as it will now have to prove why such a massive set of purchases of spectrum are needed and/or warranted.