Why Google Has Been Silent on ATandT-T-Mobile Merger

Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and several other high-tech giants wrote a letter to the FCC supporting AT&T's $39 billion merger with T-Mobile. Google did not participate and here's why.

When AT&T (NYSE:T) bid to buy T-Mobile March 20, large vendors were mum on the $39 billion deal that would unite the top U.S. wireless carrier with the No. 4 player in the market.

Chief among all of the reasons for triggering such a blockbuster deal is that AT&T needs T-Mobile's fiber infrastructure and expertise to help accelerate its 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network plans.

Thus began a barrage of back and forth, with politicians and pundits weighing in on whether this deal would harm or help the mobile market. Is it good for consumers? Is it good for competition?

Most Web service providers are on board with the deal. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Facebook, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), and others announced their support for the acquisition in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski June 6.

"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," according to the companies.

"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."

Google wasn't on the list of Internet powers blessing the deal. When eWEEK e-mailed the company to ask inquire about its position on the acquisition offer, a spokesperson fired back a terse statement: "We haven't taken a position."

Follow-up questions about whether it believed taking a position would harm its relationship with carriers and movers and shakers in the mobile market were summarily ignored.

As a formidable Internet power, the company's absence from such a letter would have proved conspicuous four years ago, before the launch of the Google's Android mobile operating system.

This is no longer the case. Google clearly doesn't want to pick sides when it comes to carriers. Android is open source, so the vendor-neutral approach to carriers and device manufacturers is necessary for them to be successful.

Google's goal with Android is to graft it into the mobile Internet fabric of the world at large. Voting to yes or no could have a deleterious impact on not only its relationship with Android supporters, and by extension, its mobile OS market share down the road.