The FCC's decided that AT&T's arguments for why its merger with T-Mobile is necessary and obvious don't quite wash, and has ordered the deal to undergo a hearing before an Administrative Law judge in February.
AT&T's claims that the T-Mobile merger would create jobs and provide more of the country with 4G coverage didn't fly with the FCC, which also said that the deal appeared to go against public interest.
The decision is another in a growing line of roadblocks for the Galactic Blue Empire. The Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against AT&T over the merger in August, which Big Blue responded to by offering to give up 25 percent of T-Mobile. Sprint, which has been a vocal opponent of the deal, has filed its own antitrust suit.
AT&T's senior vice president of Corporate Communications Larry Solomon more or less toed the company line:
The FCC's action today is disappointing. It is yet another example of a government agency acting to prevent billions in new investment and the creation of many thousands of new jobs at a time when the US economy desperately needs both.
At this time, we are reviewing all options.
For its part, Sprint's opinion is more or less "Excellent decision! High fives! Would recommend!" Officially, Vonya McCann, Sprint's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, said:
As Chairman Genachowski said in August when the Justice Department filed its antitrust lawsuit against AT&T, the record before the FCC presented, "serious concerns about the impact of the proposed transaction on competition." That record is complete and more than justifies moving this matter to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing. We appreciate Chairman Genachowski's leadership on this issue and look forward to the FCC moving quickly to adopt a strong hearing designation order.
The additional hearing doesn't mean that the deal's dead, but it's a going to be anything but clear sailing from here for AT&T-Mobile. [Paid Content]