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Friday April 22, 2011 12:25 pm

AT&T tells FCC that T-Mobile purchase will boost 4G coverage more than they thought

ATT T-mobile filing

AT&T's bid for T-Mobile is now official. The carrier on Thursday filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission, kicking off what will likely be a in-depth review of the proposed merger.

In its filing, AT&T claimed that purchasing T-Mobile will allow it to deploy its 4G LTE network to 97 percent of the U.S. population, up from the 95 percent number it gave last month.

"After conducting a more refined analysis of the combined network, AT&T is increasing the scope of this commitment to 97.3 percent," the carrier said.

AT&T surprised the tech community recently when it announced plans to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion. AT&T argued that the purchase will help stop the spectrum crunch and spur the companies's deployment of 4G service.

"In just the first five-to-seven weeks of 2015, AT&T expects to carry all of the mobile traffic volume it carried during 2010," the carrier said in its filing. "This merger provides by far the surest, fastest and most efficient solution to that challenge. The network synergies of this transaction will free up new capacity - the functional equivalent of new spectrum - in the many urban, suburban and rural wireless markets where escalating broadband usage is fast consuming existing capacity."

AT&T said it will incorporate T-Mobile cell sites into the AT&T network, providing benefits to consumers in as little as nine months, and doubling the amount of network traffic that can be carried in a given area.

AT&T also said that T-Mobile customers "who are happy with their T-Mobile USA rate plans will be able to keep them." They will also have access to AT&T's plans.

"To be clear, consumers will not have to make any changes to their T-Mobile USA services or devices upon the close of this transaction. Their handsets will continue to work, and they can remain on their current rate plans," AT&T said.

The FCC has not commented on the specifics of the deal, but said it will work with the DOJ going forward. Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, however, has already expressed reservations.

AT&T insisted that the wireless market will remain competitive after the deal goes through, something with which Sprint has vehemently disagreed.

"We are opposed to an acquisition that creates a duopoly and blatantly consolidates market power in the hands of these two companies," a Sprint spokesman said earlier this week.

Last week, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said the deal poses a "serious threat" to the wireless industry and would push it "from competition to duopoly."

When asked about the merger during its earnings call yesterday morning, Verizon said it will "let that go through due process with the federal government [and] sit and wait and see."

If it's a market-based merger, Verizon will not have many objections, but if its a "regulatory merger," then Verizon will "have a harder time." Verizon "will not stand by" if the FCC or other agencies impose regulations that force Verizon to deliver services at a set price, for example, said Fran Shammo, president and CEO of Verizon Telecom and Business.

This article, written by Chloe Albanesius, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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