We've seen several entities come out against AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile since the deal was announced back in March. Now it looks like the company that may end up doing the most damage to AT&T's arguments in favor of the buyout may be AT&T itself. Yesterday AT&T accidentally posted a filing to the FCC containing some statements that the carrier likely would've normally redacted but were left untouched. For example, AT&T has said in the past that it needs T-Mobile and its spectrum in order to build out its LTE network from the 80 percent of the country that it originally planned on to 97 percent. The document alleges that without T-Mobile, it would cost AT&T only $3.8 billion to flesh out its LTE network from 80 to 97 percent.
Another interesting tidbit of info from the document is the fact that AT&T had decided at the beginning of January to not build out its LTE network to 97 percent of the country because it couldn't find a cost-effective way to expand its coverage beyond 80 percent of the U.S. Around that same time, though, AT&T had made the offer to buy T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion, suggesting that AT&T may have held off on the decision to expand LTE to 97 percent of the country in order to use it as an incentive to get its buyout of T-Mobile approved. Additionally, marketers at AT&T were pushing the carrier to expand LTE to 97 percent of the U.S. in order to match Verizon and avoid another "There's a Map for That" battle.
AT&T has issued a statement on the letter claiming that all of the info in this latest filing is in line with its previous statements about the proposed T-Mobile acquisition. AT&T's statement to Wireless Week:
"There is no real news here. The confidential information in the latest letter is fully consistent with AT&T’s prior filings. It demonstrates the significance of our commitment to build out 4G LTE mobile broadband to 97% of the population following our merger with T-Mobile. Without this merger, AT&T could not make this expanded commitment. This merger will unleash billions of dollars in badly needed investment, creating many thousands of well-paying jobs that are vitally needed given our weakened economy.”
This new AT&T document brings about some interesting revelations in the AT&T-Mobile deal. If Ma Bell can't provide compelling arguments to counter these statements, its chances of the Department of Justice and FCC approving the merger could be seriously damaged. For those of you that'd like to look over the AT&T document in its entirety, you can do so right here. What do you all make of this news? Do you think AT&T actually decided against expanding its LTE coverage from 80 to 97 percent of the country on its own so that it could use that expansion to try and get its purchase of T-Mobile approved?
UPDATE: AT&T reached out to us with a response to this news. It's statement is as follows:
"Our latest letter to the Commission is fully consistent with AT&T’s prior filings. This letter makes clear the dramatic scale of our commitment to bring 4G LTE mobile broadband to 97% of all Americans, and that without this merger AT&T could not make this expanded LTE commitment. This expanded commitment also means that our merger will create many thousands of well-paying jobs by unleashing billions in badly needed investment, both of which are vitally needed given our weakened economy. The AT&T / T-Mobile transaction delivers a range of benefits. It is by far the surest, fastest and most efficient solution to the impending wireless spectrum exhaust. That’s because the unique network synergies of the combined network far exceed the sum of its parts, and generate the functional equivalent of new spectrum, which is the best means of addressing the macro-level, system-wide constraints confronting AT&T.
In addition to the LTE goal, our proposed merger will: