“AT&T-Mobile”

05Sep11

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that AT&T is attempting to buy T-Mobile. The proposed merger was announced early this summer, and new elements of the merger continue to develop. In latest news, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued AT&T under Antitrust (unfair competition) laws. The biggest issue concerning the merger has been its effect on competition. The government is concerned that allowing the merger will lead to less options, and therefore, higher prices imposed on consumers. Several interest groups have expressed concern about this issue. Main Street Project created the video below using Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” tune to convey their point of view.

While the DOJ has focused on competition issues, the government considers many other issues when evaluating major transactions. This summer I had the joy of working on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger interning at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC is charged with determining what is in the public’s best interest holistically, with competition being one aspect of that evaluation. The team I was placed on for reviewing the merger dealt with spectrum issues. Basically, people in the telecom world are worried that we are running out of spectrum for various communications outlets to run on to deliver their services. AT&T claims that the merger will allow them to use the spectrum more efficiently. While I cannot reveal findings from AT&T’s document submissions, I can say that the FCC is thoroughly looking into this particular idea as well many other concerns outside of competition. The FCC is on its 93rd day of its 180-day review of this merger, so it will be interesting to see what issues they point to as driving their decision. Certainly, the FCC will be somewhat influenced by the DOJ’s decision and what AT&T does in response.
One issue that I find has not been given much air time is the impact of this merger on employees of both AT&T and T-Mobile. As discussed in Chapter 1 of Mark Deuze’s Media Work, people who work in information industries must be flexible. This is an ever-changing field, which has its advantages and disadvantages for its employees. Naturally, it is easy to believe that consolidating two companies into one will lead to the consolidation of jobs as well. AT&T is now trying to use the creation of jobs as a bargaining chip for this merger. Check out the video below for an overview.

If this merger, and any other pending merger, goes through, it will be interesting to see the impact this has on jobs. Will the consolidation compress jobs or will jobs be created through the expansion and future development of new technologies?

‘Sadé Oshinubi

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