AT&T's T-Mobile deal could be affected by election

Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:18pm EST
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By Lucas Shaw

NEW YORK ( - The chances of an AT&T-T-Mobile merger grow dimmer by the day, but there may yet be hope on the horizon for the telecommunications giants -- next year's election.

The telecom industry has benefited from a change in administration before: In the 1990s, the Federal Communications Commission opposed SBC's acquisition of AT&T during a Democratic administration, only to later approve it under a Republication administration.

The current FCC administration has already indicated its displeasure with the proposed deal, which would unite AT&T, the country's second largest wireless communications service provider, and T-Mobile, the fourth largest.

That prompted AT&T and Deustche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile, to remove their application.

The two companies may still file with the commission again, and the Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit is slated for February.

While they would need the approval of both the FCC and DOJ to move forward, both of those opponents may change their tune after the election.

If Barack Obama loses to a Republican, who would then make new appointments, rest assured the regulatory environment will become more favorable.

"If the Republicans win, there is a new FCC and a Republican administration will be a lot more positive toward this merger than a democratic one," said longtime telecom analyst Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics.   Continued...