War of Words to Continue
Meanwhile, a reason for Deutsche Telekom's urgency in selling T-Mobile may have emerged. In documents provided to eWEEK by attorneys representing complainants in an antitrust lawsuit filed by European Union regulators against DT reveal that the German company is facing fines and damages of about $1.6 billion.
According to allegations in the documents provided to eWEEK, DT has repeatedly stonewalled court orders to reveal information and is facing fines, interest on the fines, awarded damages and interest on the damages that it has been ordered to pay, but so far has refused to pay. The report, prepared by the law firm Wilms & Schaub Rechtsanwaltsgeselllschaft mbH, also indicates that DT will be facing additional fines and damages for refusing a series of related court orders.
Now that a trial date has been set in the AT&T-T-Mobile case, the parties involved will begin preparing their cases and in AT&T's case, doing everything it can to influence public opinion.
Sprint, meanwhile, will be preparing for the next step. "We are pleased that Judge Huvelle decided to move both cases very quickly and in an expedited manner," said Sprint's vice president of government affairs, Vonya McCann. "Although the judge did not consolidate Sprint's case with the government's case at this time, we are pleased that the judge will hear from Sprint on the merits in oral arguments on Oct. 24."
Cellular South, which had representatives in the courtroom, but which did not participate in the hearing, also said that it's encouraged by the outcome. "Cellular South is pleased with today's scheduling hearing and looks forward to demonstrating that AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile is blatantly anticompetitive and will result in consumers facing higher prices, less innovation, fewer choices and reduced competition," said Eric Graham, vice president of Strategic and Government Relations.
The war of words will continue. Here in Washington, D.C., we're already seeing a deluge of television and newspaper ads by AT&T promoting the merger. No doubt radio ads are next, as is the usual practice by companies trying to get the ear of lawmakers, government executives-and of course judges.
In a media campaign last year promoting the purchase of aerial refueling tankers by the U.S. Air Force, the ads became omnipresent, appearing on every available form of media, from television to bus signs. AT&T will no doubt spend some of its millions of lobbying bucks in a similar campaign.