Microsoft, Facebook and other companies are throwing their support behind AT&T's $39 billion bid for T-Mobile.
Microsoft is one of a handful of tech giants publicly
backing AT&T's bid to acquire T-Mobile, according to documents submitted to
the Federal Communications Commission.
In doing so, Microsoft joins Facebook, Oracle, Research In
Motion, Yahoo and others. "Given the network capacity challenges, policymakers
must give meaningful consideration to AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile as a
means of addressing their near term wireless broadband capacity needs," reads a
June 6 letter to FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski, signed by the companies in question. "Such action will help to
meet the near-term wireless broadband needs of consumers and ensure that we are globally competitive as the world
increasingly embraces wireless broadband connectivity."
For its part, the FCC has asked AT&T for evidence
supporting the carrier's claims that its spectrum is insufficient to provide
future service. Government regulators are also interested in finding out
whether AT&T's acquisition will result in lost jobs. FCC officials have
told eWEEK they have no intention of giving the acquisition request a "rubber
While the acquisition has support from Microsoft and other
big players, it has at least one diehard
opponent: Sprint, which could find itself squeezed between mega-behemoths
Verizon and AT&T if the deal is allowed to go through. In an official
objection filed with the FCC in May, Sprint asserted that the acquisition would
ultimately harm broadband economy, competition and consumers, without
necessarily benefitting the public interest.
"AT&T is simply seeking a government bailout for
problems of its own making and expects the cost of the bailout to be shouldered
by American consumers," read a prepared statement by Vonya McCann, senior vice
president of government affairs for Sprint. "Instead of paying Deutsche
Telekom [owners of T-Mobile] $39 billion, AT&T could invest a fraction of
that amount to expand its LTE deployment to nearly all Americans."
In addition to Sprint, a public-interest group called the
Diogenes Project has also filed a similar opposition motion with the FCC. That
group claims AT&T has no evidence to back its claims of spectrum shortage,
and instead could use the T-Mobile merger to weaken its competition.
"What is truly shocking about the AT&T/T-Mobile
application is the extent to which it misrepresents the conditions and
capabilities of both companies and their prospects for the future were they to
remain independent," reads the filing from the Diogenes Project.
Both the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice will
ultimately need to examine whether the acquisition violates antitrust
regulations, and possibly ask the carrier for concessions such as price caps.
Whatever the ultimate result, though, it seems that companies like
Microsoft-which, incidentally, needs AT&T to push its Windows Phone-are
falling on the side of the carrier as it tries to swallow T-Mobile.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.