AT&T Drops Its Pursuit Of Rival Carrier T-Mobile
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And a high-profile defeat for AT&T. The company has dropped its pursuit of rival T-Mobile.
As NPR's Joel Rose reports, AT&T failed to persuade regulators that the proposed merger would be good for consumers.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: When the $39 billion deal was first announced in March, AT&T said it needed T-Mobile's assets, especially its wireless spectrum, to satisfy its customers' growing hunger for data. CEO Randall Stephenson gave a number of interviews predicting that regulators would eventually sign off on the merger of the second and fourth biggest carriers in the wireless industry.
RANDALL STEPHENSON: So it's a very competitive marketplace. It's competitive before we do this transaction. It will be competitive after we do this transaction. So we're fairly confident this will get approved.
ROSE: Just in case, AT&T spent almost $40 million on advertising for the deal, and millions more lobbying for it. AT&T claimed the merger would create jobs, but critics weren't convinced.
Craig Aaron is president of the public interest group, Free Press.
CRAIG AARON: AT&T thought that they could get this deal done no matter what because of their political clout. But in the end, this was a deal that was going to cost jobs, not create them. It was going to leave people with less competition, not more competition.
ROSE: That's how regulators seemed to see it. In August, the Department of Justice sued to stop the deal; a few months later, the Federal Communications Commission signaled it would also move to block it, releasing a report that said the merger would likely lead to higher prices for consumers. So AT&T finally gave up. It will pay a $4 billion charge for walking away. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.
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