AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile has been the subject of quite a bit of debate since it was announced in March, but now it seems that the deal may soon be getting even more interesting. The FCC said in an email yesterday afternoon that it'll consider reviewing AT&T's purchases of T-Mobile and 700MHz Qualcomm MediaFlo spectrum as one big deal, something which smaller operators have been asking for for quite a while. The reason that those carriers want the two acquisitions reviewed as one mega-deal is that if such a large buyout were to be approved, it'd deal a massive blow to smaller operators and the market in general. The FCC's statement on the matter is as follows:
"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, without prejudice to independent treatment at a later date."
Although this doesn't mean that the FCC will definitely be reviewing AT&T's T-Mobile and Qualcomm purchases as one deal, it's still not awesome news for AT&T. Ma Bell recently asked the FCC to speed up its review of the Qualcomm spectrum purchase, but now that process has been put on hold for the time being. Whether or not the FCC will indeed end up reviewing AT&T's proposed T-Mobile and Qualcomm spectrum deals as one buyout remains to be seen, but if it does then AT&T's hill to getting both buyouts approved will become a even more steep.