AT&T's Stephenson: Blocking AT&T/T-Mobile will lead to higher prices

AT&T (NYSE:T) CEO Randall Stephenson said the company has a "strong case" to make in court for its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, and that if the deal is blocked prices will jump for consumers because of the scarcity of spectrum.

AT&T has repeatedly argued that getting access to T-Mobile's AWS spectrum will help alleviate capacity constraints as well as give T-Mobile a path to deploy LTE.

Speaking at an event sponsored by Bloomberg Businessweek in New York City Thursday night, Stephenson also had harsh words for federal regulators, who have moved to oppose the deal. The Department of Justice sued to block the deal in August on antitrust grounds; a trial is expected to begin Feb. 13. Additionally, while AT&T has formally removed its FCC application for the deal, the FCC released a staff analysis report that was highly critical of the deal and AT&T's arguments in support of the transaction. In return, AT&T blasted the FCC for making the report public.

Stephenson criticized Congress for its oversight of regulatory agencies such as the FCC. "Our Congress has been very lazy in terms of how it has legislated the role of our regulators," he said. The regulatory agencies have broad mandates, he said, and that means "the personalities of the regulator, the ideals of the regulator, the ideologies of the regulator, the opinions of the regulator become very important."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this separate Bloomberg article

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