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FCC Opens AT&T-Mobile Docket

The FCC has opened up a docket on the proposed $39 billion merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, even though the deal has not been filed yet.

With the expectation that the companies will file with the FCC next week--they have reportedly already filed for antitrust review with Justice--the FCC said it is opening the docket (no. 11-65). The FCC opened the docket Thursday to lay out the ex parte guidelines, but pointed out that until the deal is actually filed, discussions related to it are exempt from ex parte limitations or requirement. That means parties can talk about the deal with the FCC without making that information public.

But when the deal is filed, the FCC reminded parties that their ex parte presentations summaries must include the substance of the discussions and not simply a list of subjects discussed. The FCC revamped its ex parte rules to make the disclosures more substantive.

It added that "more than a one- or two-sentence description of the views and arguments presented is generally required." It also urged everybody to save some trees and use the electronic filing system to file ex partes.

AT&T says the merger will further the administration's, and FCC's, goal of deploying next-generation wireless broadband.