AT&T inadvertently uploaded a document to the Federal Communications Commission’s web site on Thursday that shows that it wasn’t prepared to spend $3.8 billion to roll out its next generation wireless technology to go beyond covering 80 percent of the U.S. population.
The filing, which was subsequently removed, was caught by two industry trade publications Communications Daily, and Wireless Week.
Wireless Week reports that AT&T’s lawyers argued in its filing that the T-Mobile merger would help it to absorb the capital costs of building out its network to reach 97 percent of the population in the U.S. — a promise that it’s made to politicians and regulators if it were allowed to follow through with its acquisition of T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom.
On Friday, the influential media and telecom reform group Free Press capitalized on the news and sent out an alert that said that the leaked document shows that the real reason AT&T wants to acquire T-Mobile is to squash competition.
According to Free Press:
On Thursday, documents filed by AT&T with the Federal Communications Commission, and obtained by Communications Daily, exposed AT&T’s bogus claims that it can’t build out 4G LTE service to the entire country unless it acquires T-Mobile. Comm Daily reports that in the filing, AT&T admitted that expanding its most advanced network to 97 percent of the country would cost only an estimated $3.8 billion. But the filing shows AT&T rejected that option, claiming there wasn’t a “viable business case” to justify the expansion.
Yet the company is willing to spend $39 billion on the T-Mobile takeover — 10 times as much. And the company is committed to paying T-Mobile $6 billion in total compensation if the deal falls through, $2.2 billion more than it would cost to expand its service.
Meanwhile, Karl Bode of DSL reports says the leaked document “demolishes” the case for the merger.
He argues that the leaked document shows that AT&T doesn’t need T-Mobile’s spectrum to increase coverage to 97 percent of the population, and that’s a serious problem because it’s the basis upon which so many politicians have endorsed the merger.
But AT&T spokeswoman Margeret Boles downplayed the revelation, telling Wireless Week that the numbers and content in the leaked filing are consistent with everything that AT&T has said in the past.
The FCC is reviewing the merger for its competitive impact on the market, and public and business opinion on the benefits of the merger is mixed.