AT&T confident T-Mobile deal will close by March 2012

Despite fierce opposition from critics, including Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), AT&T (NYSE:T) remains confident that its proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA will be approved by March 2012, a senior executive said. 

AT&T handed over a second round of data to the Department of Justice, where antitrust regulators are assessing the deal. The final comment period at the FCC ended Monday.

In a briefing with reporters in Washington, AT&T General Counsel Wayne Watts said that the review of the deal so far has been thorough, fact-based and "exactly as we expected."

Watts declined to discuss what kind of conditions regulators might place on the deal or what divestitures or conditions AT&T might be willing to accept to get the deal approved. However, according to the Washington Post, Watts rejected the idea that AT&T should not be allowed to form exclusive handset deals as a condition of the deal being approved.

"Having too many conditions doesn't look like what we should be thinking about right now," he said. "We're focusing on getting it done."

In a detailed filing with the FCC, Sprint said AT&T can increase its network capacity by more than 600 percent by developing unused spectrum the company has warehoused, deploying a network architecture with greater site density and upgrading from HSPA+ to LTE. Watts rejected the notion that AT&T is warehousing spectrum, and T-Mobile issued a statement saying that the two companies have demonstrated that their combined networks and spectrum will help alleviate a spectrum crunch.

In addition to Sprint, Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), Cellular South and a coalition of public interest groups are opposed to the deal. MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) has argued against the deal, but offered suggestions on conditions the FCC should place on AT&T if it does approve the transaction. Technology heavyweights, including Facebook, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), support the deal, as do unions, 21 governors and others.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Washington Post article

Related Articles:
Sprint: AT&T can solve capacity crunch without buying T-Mobile
FCC asks Verizon, Sprint, others for data on AT&T/T-Mobile deal
MetroPCS argues against AT&T/T-Mobile deal, but offers conditions
Leap formally opposes AT&T/T-Mobile deal
MetroPCS, Leap open to scooping up divested AT&T/T-Mobile assets
In FCC filing, Sprint blasts AT&T for inept network management