AT&T to pay $2M fine for violating Dobson merger terms

The U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday that AT&T would pay it more than $2 million in fines for violating the legal terms of its 2007 acquisition of Dobson Communications.

As part of the Dobson deal, the Justice Department required AT&T to divest from three rural markets, including two in Kentucky and one in Oklahoma. The businesses in those markets were to have been operated independently and AT&T was supposed to ensure that customer information would remain confidential.

However, antitrust regulators found that AT&T violated the terms of the agreement by giving unauthorized access to AT&T employees to sensitive client information that was used to steal customers away from the divested businesses. In addition, early termination fees were waived for customers so that they could switch to AT&T. 

The $2.8 billion acquisition was first announced in July 2007. The Department of Justice had cleared the deal in October 2007. Dobson had sold wireless services under its Cellular One brand, which had about 1.7 million customers.

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