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AT&T Businesses Communications United States

AT&T Issues Scathing Response To FCC Report 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-strongly-disagree dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has issued a scathing letter in response to the FCC's decision to release a staff report on its findings surrounding AT&T's planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA. 'We expected that the AT&T-T-Mobile transaction would receive careful, considered, and fair analysis,' Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, said. 'Unfortunately, the preliminary FCC Staff Analysis offers none of that.'"
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AT&T Issues Scathing Response To FCC Report

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  • Unimpressive. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:29PM (#38233628) Journal
    I'm pretty sure that AT&T's response is simply a toddler's temper tantrum with a midlife crisis and an expensive suit.
  • Newsflash! (Score:5, Funny)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:30PM (#38233632) Journal
    AT&T is not the United Nations. And even if they were, a firmly worded letter is getting them nowhere here.
  • by lambent (234167) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:31PM (#38233642)

    at this point, i wonder if AT&T has actually bought its own story, or if they have to practice keeping a straight face in the mirror every morning.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:31PM (#38233646)

    AT&T buying T-Mobile is a bad thing for consumers. The original cell phone plan was that there would be two providers, the local Ma Bell and a start-up. AT&T as SBC bought up the East Coast start-ups, Verizon bought the West Coast ones, and T-Mobile and Sprint came to the party as national big-city carriers on at the time open space adjustments.

    AT&T of the 1980s was busted up as a monopoly. If AT&T is allowed to have T-Mobile, what's stopping Verizon and Sprint from joining up? Less competitors always leads to higher prices. Anybody remember what cellphones cost in the early 1990s?

    • by scot4875 (542869) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:37PM (#38234040) Homepage

      AT&T of the 1980s was busted up as a monopoly. If AT&T is allowed to have T-Mobile, what's stopping Verizon and Sprint from joining up? Less competitors always leads to higher prices. Anybody remember what cellphones cost in the early 1990s?

      Look, I'm not going to argue that we shouldn't prevent a cell phone service monopoly, but using the cost of cellphones in the early 1990s as an argument against it isn't even remotely valid.

      Computers cost upwards of $2k for a typical desktop in the early 1990s and there were *way* more PC manufacturers back then (remember Computer Shopper magazine?). One could just as easily say "More competitors lead to higher prices. Anybody remember what PCs cost in the early 1990s?" and be equally wrong.

      --Jeremy

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh? Say you pay $70/month for your phone. 2 year contract. $200 phone. That's $1880.00.
        Oh, you have more phones and lines...

      • Uhmmmmmmmm...... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Travoltus (110240) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:40AM (#38234680) Journal

        The argument that monopolies raise the price of cell phone service is well-supported.

        Cell phone service voice and data plans are extraordinarily high in the U.S., Japan and Canada, compared to other nations. America is way above the international average. We're the most expensive when it comes to texting. For the whole package of cell phone service America and Canada are the most expensive. Guess which countries keeps coming up as among the most expensive? The U.S. and Canada.

        http://newamerica.net/publications/policy/an_international_comparison_of_cell_phone_plans_and_prices [newamerica.net]

        As for PC prices, the number of competitors had very little effect compared to the power of Moore's Law. Had we had more competitors, PC prices might be 25% less right now. A huge part of what we pay for PCs is Windows. If we had more competition there we certainly would see lower prices.

        So yes, oligopolies mean higher prices. And Jesus WAS/is in fact a liberal. :D

        • by Unipuma (532655)

          A huge part of what we pay for PCs is Windows. If we had more competition there we certainly would see lower prices.

          Actually, no. Currently, the cost of the Windows license for an OEM is (more than) offset by the kickback that OEMs receive for pre-installing crap/bloatware on the new machine.
          It has actually gotten so bad that some machines without Windows are actually -more expensive- because they can't pre-install bloatware on it.

        • I guess you haven't been to Europe lately. I lived in Germany the last 3 years. Any thought that cell phone service in the EU is cheaper than anywhere in the US is just laughable. Or, wrong, if you need the word. Happy Holidays.
  • by mysidia (191772) * on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:32PM (#38233654)

    For Sprint's short and sweet response, compared to ATT's long-winded vague casting of aspersions against the FCC staff.

    The FCC staff’s Analysis and Findings provide a careful, substantive analysis of AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile, consistent with the FCC’s role as the independent, expert agency responsible for such merger reviews. Rather than accept the expert agency’s Analysis and Findings, AT&T has chosen to make baseless claims about the FCC’s process. [...]

    • by DiabolicallyRandom (2449482) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:49PM (#38233772) Journal
      Lol - I just love this whole thing. ATT is like the giant internet forum troll, throwing a temper tantrum because they got banned from the forums, and sprint is like the even keeled bystander, explaining to the banned individual why trolling is wrong.
    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:57PM (#38233832)
      You forgot the, IMO, best part:

      We agree with AT&T on one point however: the public should read the Analysis and Findings on AT&T’s proposed takeover.

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:38PM (#38233698) Homepage Journal

    Imagine if Apple bought T-Mobile, then refused to sell their phones through any other service provider?

  • Poor AT&T (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0101000001001010 (466440) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:50PM (#38233776)

    Ohhhh, poor AT&T. Your regulator has some teeth and is preserving the bit of competition that still exists in wireless? We all feel so very very bad for you.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:54PM (#38233804)

    AT&T has issued a scathing letter in response ... 'We expected that the AT&T-T-Mobile transaction would receive careful, considered, and fair analysis,' ... 'Unfortunately, the preliminary FCC Staff Analysis offers none of that.'

    Since things didn't go their way, did anyone really expect a different response from AT&T? Can you imagine this?

    AT&T: What were we thinking! <foreheadsmack> It's obvious now that we're wankers.
    We commend the FCC for their insightful analysis; well done and thank you for your efforts.

    • Re:Expectations. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:14PM (#38233920)

      No, but I can imagine silence. Or a one-sentence 'we respectfully disagree'.

    • by Maestro4k (707634)

      Since things didn't go their way, did anyone really expect a different response from AT&T?

      Did I expect them to suddenly agree? No. Did I expect them to disagree in a way that wouldn't antagonize the FCC? Yes. And it's gotten noticed already, as Ars Technica's article [arstechnica.com] points out in an update:

      The FCC doesn't appear to be very happy about AT&T's comments. In a comment made via the FCC's Twitter feed, Joel Guerin, the chief of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau said he was deeply concerned about AT&T's response to the release of the report.

      This is likely to cause AT&T trouble down the line. Pissing off the officials who oversee your business is never a good move. Congress is unlikely to be impressed either.

      • This is likely to cause AT&T trouble down the line. Pissing off the officials who oversee your business is never a good move.

        Having utterly unaccountable people everyone has to toady to is an even worse move, for the people of the U.S.

        With every year the FCC grows more intolerable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2011 @09:57PM (#38233834)

    They should break that company up again, it seems the first time wasn't enough to curb their arrogance.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      The proceedings would take too long, and before it would be finished we'd have a Republican in the White House again.

    • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:59PM (#38234152) Journal

      They should break that company up again, it seems the first time wasn't enough to curb their arrogance.

      While I agree that AT&T should be broken up, the "again" part isn't really correct. The company that now calls itself AT&T isn't really the same company as the one that was broken up.

      • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @11:32PM (#38234332) Homepage Journal

        The company that now calls itself AT&T isn't really the same company as the one that was broken up.

        Considering that the AT&T which remained after the original breakup was bought out (largely for the name) by one of the Baby Bells, and that's the AT&T we have now, I'm not sure how much difference there really is. The old Ma Bell culture stayed alive and well throughout. Monoplies like Standard Oil and the original AT&T are like goddamn T-1000s: break them up all you want, they'll just reassemble and keep coming after you.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Better yet, appoint Arnold to be the CEO. He can do to AT&T what he did to California.

        • by steve_bryan (2671)

          Well, one part of the original AT&T culture was not maintained by the company calling itself AT&T today. The original AT&T funded Bell Labs, one of the most significant research labs of the twentieth century which did research worthy of multiple Nobel Prizes. Nothing like that from the current company calling itself AT&T.

          • by berashith (222128)

            actually, the company is very worried about becoming only a carrier, and not having any products. The people putting products across AT&Ts network are making piles of cash, and AT&T wants in on it. They are suffering from the big company issue of having too many pieces. The wireless division here is totally separate from DSL and home lines, which is separate from innovation. The issue with innovation is that a big company runs more on politics than ideas, and will never be nimble enough to truly inn

    • by TexVex (669445) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @11:27PM (#38234310)
      I had been using smartphones for over four years, until just recently. I had an iPhone for two years, and before that I used a Pocket PC that could do everything an iPhone could do except it didn't have such a slick interface. All that time, I had a basic voice package and a decent data plan.

      Recently (tough economic times and all) I decided to really have a look at what I was paying for and what I was getting. I found out that more of my "rollover minutes" simply decayed after non-use than I ever actually used. I never used more than 20% of my "evening and weekend" minutes. I never used more than 10% of my Internet bandwidth cap.

      Basically, I was paying $85 or so per month and letting most of the value of it go to waste.

      So, I switched to pre-paid TracFone. I bought a decent Motorola that has a touchscreen and a decent collection of features. I lost GPS navigation, but that's ok because I have a GPS in my car now. Other than that, I can still talk, text, browse, play games, and anything else I could do before.

      The phone came with a "triple minutes for life" deal. Basically, that means that so long as I use that same phone, I buy my pre-paid minutes at $0.047. If I browse the Web, it charges me for the time in minutes, instead of metering my bandwidth. Text messages are about 1.5 cents apiece to send and receive.

      And all of it goes over AT&T's network. I have the same service provider as before. Same signal quality. Same Internet bandwidth.

      Another thing I did was invest $30 in a decent headset for my computer. When I'm at home, I now use Google Voice to make outgoing phone calls. I get great sound quality and don't pay a penny for it. These are my new "evening and weekend" minutes...

      I paid $90 for the phone, and I charged it up with a little under 1300 minutes at a price of $60. That was 2.5 months ago. I still have 430 minutes remaining. That basically means I'm using my phone for a hair under $16.50 per month now. That's a savings of about $70 per month. The cheaper service has already paid for the phone. Anybody want to buy a used iPhone 3GS?

      If you use the hell out of your smartphone, you might be getting your money's worth. But if you're a more "casual" smartphone user, then you're getting seriously ripped off.
      • by sstamps (39313)

        Text messages are about 1.5 cents apiece to send and receive.

        ..and that's still a rip-off. Consider:

        Basically, that means that so long as I use that same phone, I buy my pre-paid minutes at $0.047. If I browse the Web, it charges me for the time in minutes, instead of metering my bandwidth.

        1 minute of voice with a data rate of ~4kbps is about 512 bytes. The largest text messages are about 1/2 of that with overhead. So, one minute equivalence of text messages, 120 messages, you pay $0.047 for voice, and $1.80 for text messages, around 4000% more.

        That doesn't even touch on the fact that voice has a MUCH higher QoS requirement (at a premium for quality) than a text message.

        Text messaging is nothing but a sacred cash cow for the telcos. I refuse to use it.

        • by sstamps (39313)

          Sorry, that should read 512 bytes per second, or 30,720 bytes per minute, which is 7200 text messages, or $108.00 compared with $0.047 for the same amount of voice data, about 23,000% more.

          Such a bargain, eh?

          • by sstamps (39313)

            Man, I am having trouble with math tonight.. the 120 message figure was right. :P

            overcorrections :P

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:01PM (#38233854)

    AT&T can use that money to upgrade and expand their broadband circuits. I'm in south Texas and AT&T openly admits that our lines are over subscribed. Every Tech sent to check low signal strength has confessed to over subscription. Well use that money to improve the service they are collecting for and not providing!!

  • translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:10PM (#38233884)

    ATT: "We didn't get our request rubber stamped like we expected it to be after we spent all that money to get the current crop of legislators and executives elected. We spend money on campaign contributions for a reason people! The FCC's review of our proposed acquisition of T-Mobile totally neglects to take these facts into account, and instead harps on things like abusive monopoly paractices and leaked memos from our executives. Obviously the FCC is not doing its job as a captured regulator, and we are voicing our displeasure publicly so as not to oust our purchased politicians. We fully expect them take action against this FCC ruling, and further insist that they take the DoJ to task on the pending antitrust case, if they want any more of our money; we understand that elections are just around the corner. Just a reminder guys. We don't get what we want, you don't get what you want."

    Sprint: "We applaud the FCC for finally doing what it was really supposed to do, and appreciate its dedication to fact finding and for ensuring a balanced economic foundation for the telecom industry. We strong urge everyone to read the FCC's report."

    • Re:translation: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:28AM (#38234598)
      Looks like your prediction is coming true as of... yesterday:

      11/30/2011

      At the Senate Commerce Committee's confirmation hearings for Federal Communications Commission nominees Wednesday, Republican nominee Ajit Pai - previously employed by at Jenner & Block, the law firm representing clients in the AT&T/T-Mobile deal - told Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison that he "would not feel any prejudice" towards a client of his former firm.

      In response to a question from the senator over whether Pai would have possible conflicts of interest going forward, and whether he would recuse himself from the proceedings if he did, Pai told Hutschison, "I do not believe that my short period of employment at Jenner & Block would preclude me from being an effective commissioner, or from robustly participating in commission proceedings."

      (cite) [dailycaller.com]

      They just love appointing foxes to guard the henhouse, don't they? It sure worked out well for the banking industry, why not telecoms?

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:16PM (#38233936)

    It's good the government did not approve this merger. Here's why:

    First, behind all these statements will be legalese that I describe after each one of them.

    After discounting the job-creating impact of AT&T's LTS and other investments, the report asserts that the merger will cost jobs despite public commitments AT&T has made to address this very concern, including the following:

    AT&T should know that public commitments are not legally binding.

    Commitment that the merger will not result in any job losses for U.S.-based wireless call center employees of T-Mobile or AT&T who are on the payroll when the merger closes;

    How many are these? You will not be surprised that there could be a handful of them in the USA. Even then, you could find that these so called call center employees are not directly employed. Many times, companies will outsource services to the extent that there are pay disparities for employees doing the same job.

    Commitment to bring 5,000 wireless call center jobs back to the U.S. that today are outsourced to other countries;

    Over what period of time may I ask? AT&T could later argue that they meant returning these jobs "over a period of two or three decades!" Imagine that.

    Commitment that T-Mobile's non-management employees whose job functions are no longer required because of the merger will be offered another position in the combined company.

    What they do not tell you is that the offered position will be at a significantly lower pay, or that these positions will not be permanent, or that they will have conditions attached to them such that employees will fire themselves.

    Who does AT&T think they are fooling?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by larry bagina (561269)

      The FCC's mission [wikipedia.org] is to "make available so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication services with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.".

      You may notice that it is not their mission to ensure full employment.

      • AT&T's choices are theirs, and their ambivalence to community is needlessly endured. AT&T's Service is the worst, by multiple evaluations. If "AT&T, the Hutt" were to not be here tomorrow, the loss would be easily recoverable, and with improvements that would be a healthy by-product.
    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday December 02, 2011 @02:28AM (#38235064) Homepage

      Who does AT&T think they are fooling?

      They think, and are correct, that they are fooling the people who believe that Fox News is fair and balanced.

      This is a technique used regularly in controlling public opinion about policy. The further out you can pull one side of the argument, the further out you can pull the middle. This is a very effective approach, because so many people believe that justice means being reasonable, and that being reasonable means giving each side half of what they are asking for.

      People are social animals and have a natural tendency to believe that both sides in a debate are being fair in their assessment and sincere about what they believe is just. They believe that each viewpoint must have merit. They believe, therefore, that any point roughly halfway between the two views must fall on reasonable ground. Trusting to this belief, they believe they do not have to know he details to know a fair solution. Any entity with a stake in public policy -- corporations, politicians, power-brokers -- knows about this mechanism. The big guys all have public relations people whose job is to manipulate this, and many other similar flaws.

      This results in self-feeding bias. Left unchecked, it creates a disadvantage for entities that do not exploit the problem. In an otherwise competitive system, this selects for the entities most willing and capable of exploiting the flaw. This naturally breeds ever stronger abusers of such flaws.

      Eventually, there comes a correction. If it happens early, it can be mild and the problem will be abated without a significant disturbance. The longer it goes, the stronger the distortion becomes -- as does the associated correction and disturbance.

      If one believes in the value of economic stability as a path toward economic advancement, it is important to seek to avoid such extremity and correction.

  • Read carefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:17PM (#38233942)

    Notice that every rebuttal made by AT&T is simply a statement by AT&T that they PROMISE not to do what is in their own best interest!

    For example, if there is 1 fewer wireless company, there WILL be less total job positions needed. That is an obvious truth of economics : one fewer company means more consolidation, fewer independent cell towers needed, etc. Yet AT&T PROMISES to hire more Americans as CSRs, despite the fact that it would be cheaper for them to keep outsourcing.

    AT&T will find it easier to raise prices with the merger because with 1 fewer competitor, the Nash Equilibrium inches closer to monopoly prices. AT&T PROMISES to do otherwise.

    AT&T has no competitor to fight for rural broadband market share, yet they PROMISE to build the wires anyway.

    And so on and so forth. Every rebuttal basically says "well, maybe it doesn't make market sense, but we have plans to do X if we get our way".

    Think about who made this report : some lawyers and marketing folks in AT&T's executive branch. Those people are not going to be unbiased.

  • Really AT&T? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:26PM (#38233990)

    Did AT&T really think they could do this anti-competitive $39 billion dollar move? When the provider with the most expensive plans buys out the provider with the cheapest plans it can't be anything but anti-competitive.

  • by zbobet2012 (1025836) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @10:35PM (#38234028)
    SEVP? Jesus christ why not either just call him a "president" or something. The tech industries titles today are extremely out of hand. VP, SVP, EVP, SEVP, President, Cxx...
  • by mykos (1627575) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @11:29PM (#38234320)
    Perhaps they'd get some sympathy if they hadn't burned all their bridges with anyone who might listen. Even their own customers hate them.
    Maybe they should spend that $39 billion on upgrading their infrastructure instead of eliminating competition.
  • Translation: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by forkfail (228161) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:15AM (#38234512)

    We thought we had this one bought and paid for.

    Maybe their lobbyists should have gotten receipts....

  • AT&T, easily the countries biggest Service disappointment is hurt. What's it going to do? Move its operations to Ireland?

    snap google.

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