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AT&T Responds To DoJ Lawsuit 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-we-can-leverage-our-synergies,-honest dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last week the Department of Justice filed an antitrust complaint to stop the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA. Now, AT&T has responded, arguing that the merger would benefit consumers by increasing competition and freeing up spectrum. 'That means increased output, higher quality service, fewer dropped calls,and lower prices to consumers than without the merger,' they say. Meanwhile, House Republicans have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an explanation of 'what went into the decision to challenge the merger and whether the agencies considered the impact on jobs and economic growth.' A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21."
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AT&T Responds To DoJ Lawsuit

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:50PM (#37357548)

    Where's the love, DoJ? Remember back when we were tight, when we were illegally spying on all those Americans? Those were good days, baby. We didn't need no warrants or paperwork back then, did we? Why you got to be like this now? Can't we just keep everything hush-hush, like we used to? Come on, you know you want to say yes--just like we said yes when you wanted to install all that spy gear on our trunk lines. You liked daddy's trunk, didn't you girl?

    Show some love for AT&T, baby. Don't let it end this way. Let us tap that ass again, like we tapped everyone's phone for you. Let's get away from these courtrooms and just switch places, girl, with *you* bending over and *us* doing the tapping this time. Don't be a hater, DoJ. Let daddy take you all the way *up there*--above the law, just one more time.

    • by RKBA (622932)
      Were illegally spying on all those Americans??? Surprise, they still do, except now it's legal!
      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        Were illegally spying on all those Americans??? Surprise, they still do, except now it's legal!

        So essentially, the GP is correct I guess. They were illegally spying on all those Americans

      • Were illegally spying on all those Americans??? Surprise, they still do, except now it's legal!

        Yes, were illegally spying. Sure, they're still doing it, but if it's no longer illegal, the past tense is accurate since now it's not illegal.

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act [wikipedia.org]
          October 26 2001

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_controversy [wikipedia.org]
          Approximately 2007

          So, it really wasn't illegal when it was signed into law in 2001...

          From the US Pat Act page:

          Title II sections that were to originally expire on December 31, 2005
          Section Section title
          201 Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism
          202 Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses
          203(b) Authority to share electronic, wire and oral interception information
          204 Clarification of intelligence exceptions from limitations on interception and disclosure of wire, oral, and electronic communications
          206 Roving surveillance authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
          207 Duration of FISA surveillance of non-United States persons who are agents of a foreign power
          209 Seizure of voice-mail messages pursuant to warrants
          212 Emergency disclosure of electronic communications to protect life and limb
          214 Pen register and trap and trace authority under FISA
          215 Access to records and other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
          217 Interception of computer trespasser communications
          218 Foreign intelligence information
          220 Nationwide service of search warrants for electronic evidence
          223 Civil liability for certain unauthorized disclosures
          225 Immunity for compliance with FISA wiretap

          It was extended before it expired, and was roughly exactly the same.

    • I thought they erased that recording. Have you been tapping someone's phone?
  • AT&T seems evil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ken Broadfoot (3675) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:55PM (#37357592) Homepage Journal

    I use AT&T... but the fact they have an exclusive with Apple, and they want T-Mobile.... doesn't remind ANYONE here of another company we tend to love to hate?
    Speak about the "freedom" of the free market all you want, but I for one, applaud the governments actions here... Fsck AT&T...

    • Re:AT&T seems evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by guspasho (941623) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:05PM (#37357682)

      Competition > free markets

      Free markets are far from perfect; monopolies are only the most obvious flaw. Additionally, it's arguable whether a market dominated by a private monopoly is actually free. Free from governmental force, sure, but that isn't the only kind of freedom that is implied by the term free market.

      • by swalve (1980968)
        I believe the definition of a free market is simply one where there are no artificial barriers to entry, for sellers or buyers. A market can be completely free and still have a monopoly seller, as long as nobody is stopping anyone from trying to get in the game.

        The attempted blocking of this sale by the government is actually anti-competitive. They are telling AT&T it better not try to get very much bigger, or else. In other words, quit trying to gain so much market share. Quit competing.

        If AT
        • by sjames (1099)

          No, it may be anti free-market, but it is neither anti-competitive nor anti healthy market.

        • And yet, the score is only 1.

          I ran out of mod points yesterday. Consider this a +1.

        • by guspasho (941623)

          The government is not seeking to punish or pre-punish AT&T. It certainly isn't saying "or else".

          Check out the Justice Department's complaint: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/August/11-at-1118.html [justice.gov]

          The DOJ's point is that the merger is bad for competition to the extent that it reduces competition below some minimum acceptable level.

          Markets are good because they foster competition, not because they lack government interference. Vibrant and healthy competition is what gives markets their value. It drives

          • by swalve (1980968)
            The point of a market is that it is free and fair for both consumers AND sellers.
        • But don't pre-punish them for something they might do

          Anti-monopoly regulation is not punishment; rather, it is an attempt to maintain a healthy market.

          • Look at it this way. It would be much more efficient to just have two football teams after the Superbowl. Then we'd only have to buy two team jerseys, right.

        • by Whuffo (1043790)
          Rather than spout your opinion, how about checking the facts before you post again?
      • Ummm.... I think it's still worth considering that we wouldn't usually be in the position of having to wrestle with a company achieving this monopoly status if govt. didn't originally CAUSE the problem with their manipulation and regulation of the marketplace. AT&T started out WAY ahead of everyone else in the telecom game because they were granted legal monopoly status for many decades. In a truly free marketplace, I'm not convinced monopolies really happen very often. They're more of a rare anomaly

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        Competition > free markets

        While I completely agree with the sentiment of your post, I am afraid I must point out that you are accepting a flawed definition. In fact, competition is a required element of free markets.

        it's arguable whether a market dominated by a private monopoly is actually free. Free from governmental force, sure, but that isn't the only kind of freedom that is implied by the term free market.

        Lack of monopoly bias is, itself, part of the only kind of freedom implied by the term free mark

        • by guspasho (941623)

          Thanks. I think you're absolutely right, but I'm afraid it will be more difficult to convince people to change their idea of what a free market is than to suggest to them a different focus. It probably doesn't dispossess them of any false notions, but I don't think it reinforces any either, and in this case when the two appear in conflict it makes sense.

    • by Macrat (638047)

      I use AT&T... but the fact they have an exclusive with Apple,.

      So my factory unlocked iPhone purchased directly from Apple shouldn't work on T-Mobile as it does currently?

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      Speak about the "freedom" of the free market all you want

      Thank you, I will. Probably at length, as I do so love the freedom of the free market, and the free market itself. It is one of the things I hold most dear, in fact. The very notion of the free market possesses a sublime beauty that rivals the considerable allure of free speech.

      You see -- the "free" in free market is like the "free" in Free Software, in that it is broadly misunderstood and -- or perhaps because -- many attempt to usurp its meaning. "F

  • Nonsense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:56PM (#37357602) Journal

    How does buying up another telco player encourage competition?

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jeng (926980) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:59PM (#37357644)

      I think part of what they were saying is that they are so incompetent that they have to purchase a whole other company so they quit dropping calls.

      The competition they are talking about encouraging is their own ability to compete, not the market itself.

      They have their heads so far up their asses that they can't see anything else.

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        They have their heads so far up their asses that they can't see anything at all.

        There, fixed it for ya. Ah, yes, and it smells like hell in there !

      • After explaining how this increased competition, AT&T went on to explain that up is down, white is black, and "The Last Airbender" was an excellent film.
      • They're basically saying "if our customers have to wait 2-hours for customer service, T-mobil's customers should too!".

        I wish ATT didn't exist. *MOST* people I know who have any interaction with them HATE them and have been screwed over by them -- and they gladly provide that IT WAS THEIR ONLY CHOICE when they did business with them.

        I wish ATT would stop being such trash. And I can't believed people would put up with such horrid service just to use an iPhone.

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:00PM (#37357650)

      How does it increase jobs? How does it increase economic growth? Here is a hint: all those cost reduction and merger synergies? They don't come from employing more people.

      • by ATMAvatar (648864)
        Don't you know? AT&T will end up with more employees than it had. The fact that the net number of employed US citizens at the end of the merger will be negative is just a mundane detail that should be omitted.
      • by philpalm (952191)
        It increases the lobbyists' economic growth to influence the Congressmen. Also the AT&T branches that compete with T-Mobile will experience economic growth too....
    • by Bill Dimm (463823)

      How does buying up another telco player encourage competition?

      They'll have more customers and more infrastructure, so they'll be able to compete better. Isn't it obvious?

      It reminds me of the time my brokerage sent me a letter saying it was adjusting its margin rates (the interest you pay them when you borrow money to buy securities) to be "more competitive." As the customer, I thought more competitive would be good for me. Then I looked at the rates and found that the rates were higher for all brackets except one, which was unchanged. Apparently, "more competitive

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:13PM (#37358214)
      You appear to be looking for logic and reason in a corporate press statement. That's a bit like seeking health advice in a morgue.
    • AT&T buys TM, gobbles up their bandwidth, and competes better with Verizon, while offering customers like me more bars, instead of having to use Skype to call on my phone via wifi - in my own bedroom.

      Should we just wait for T-Mobile to die, then have some bankruptcy auction for the bandwidth? How is that more efficient for markets than just doing it now? Creative destruction, my friend.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Not really, going from 4 to 3 carriers isn't going to do anything positive for competition. Doesn't matter how you look at it, there's no competition with 4 carriers and going to 3 carriers doesn't strike me as a way of increasing competition.

        My guess is that if T-Mobile really does go under that they'll end up being bought out by somebody like Century Link that doesn't have an arm in the market. Or that it would be broken up into smaller regional carriers.

        Where I live, we have 4 choices and a small number

        • by cynyr (703126)

          I would probably end up with ATT until i wanted a new phone (i bought a mytouch 4g around a year ago), because ATT i believe is the only GSM/HDSP+ network around. Once it was new phone time, i'd probably go to verizon, or sprint depending on the phone choices. Since i got a high end smart phone you would really have to work to not get me to keep a high powered phone now.

      • Better yet:

        ATT is split into 3 companies (or more). Each is forced to compete with each other.

        Wireless carriers across the board end up needing to cooperate (share bandwidth) to please national plan customers, fostering price competition between companies, and yet increased coverage for all customers.

        Since there will be several competitors, prices will be more aligned with customer desires instead of the 'limited choice' gouging that we experience now with the Oligopoly.

        Even now, the smallest competitor, S

    • How does buying up another telco player encourage competition?

      It doesn't. And I find it ironic that REPUBLICANS (those who tout 'competition') are questioning why the buying of competitors should be challenged.

      Vote like a retard; vote Republican. They will lie lie lie and screw you all day, don't people see that? I realize both parties are pro-corporate, but you've gotta be blind or ignorant not to see how ridiculous it is to vote GOP/TeaParty(fake)/Republitard/Conservative nowadays unless you make $1M+/year. And even then its greed you'd be voting for.

  • All the cell providers are notorious for ripping people off. Its about time the DoJ did something within their power.
  • We always laugh at Verizon for how they erroneously calculated billing, what about AT&T's fuzzy math? 4 competitors - 1 competitor > 3 competitors? tens of thousands of jobs lost due to merger "cost reductions" a few thousand call center jobs? Really? It boggles the mind how stupid they think we all are.
    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      But OTOH, we all know it'll work in the end. So why bother?

    • by PingKin (2457988)

      Seriously?! Then your mind must also be boggled at the number of Republicans holding public office.

    • They don't think they know how stupid we are; they know it. They know this will all blow over and they'll be allowed to merge.

      I am hoping from the bottom of my heart that this merger doesn't happen, but at least if it does I'll have a way to back out of my contract with T-Mobile. I will not be an AT&T customer. Never again.

      • by Wiener (36657)

        They don't think they know how stupid we are; they know it. They know this will all blow over and they'll be allowed to merge.

        I am hoping from the bottom of my heart that this merger doesn't happen, but at least if it does I'll have a way to back out of my contract with T-Mobile. I will not be an AT&T customer. Never again.

        That's not it, at all. They know that even if the the merger is blocked, T-Mobile is screwed. It's unverified by T-Mobile but customers appear to be leaving in droves, customer service is starting to suffer since the reps know they won't have a job in a year, and network improvements will stagnate leaving them so far behind the competition they'll look like Danica Patrick in a Sprint Cup race! Back to being serious, this will be just like what happened to Sun after the Oracle buyout was stretched out in

        • by Zenin (266666)

          They know that even if the the merger is blocked, T-Mobile is screwed. [...]

          You're ignoring the fact that if the merger is blocked, AT&T must give T-Mobile $3 billion in cash, part of its wireless spectrum, and reduce charges for calls into AT&Tâ(TM)s network, a total package estimated at about $7 billion.

          That's a huge boost for T-Mobile. I'm also not sure where you're getting the idea customers are leaving; in this down economy the idea of actually unlimited plans for almost half of what AT

    • by kimvette (919543)

      It boggles the mind how stupid they think we all are.

      They're not counting on consumers to be stupid; they are counting on the courts to be stupid - and all bets are in their favor.

  • Impact on jobs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SeNtM (965176) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:58PM (#37357624) Homepage
    Why do republicans always side with large corporations? The impact the merger will have on jobs is that they will be reduced as AT&T consolidates redundant positions.
    • Re:Impact on jobs? (Score:4, Informative)

      by guspasho (941623) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:08PM (#37357718)

      Why do republicans always side with large corporations?

      Fundraising.

    • Re:Impact on jobs? (Score:5, Informative)

      by msoftsucks (604691) on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:07PM (#37358182)
      That's because the Repubs have been paid off by the big boys. They no longer represent you or me, they really represent corporate interests which have been bought out by all of that lobbyist money. They even managed to modify lobbying and financing laws to allow international companies to buy them off. To see how bad "your" representative has been bought off go here [opensecrets.org]
      • by anagama (611277)

        And I suppose Obama's "look forward not backward" -- Hey AT&T, here's a nice bit of immunity for past illegal deeds -- that doesn't"represent corporate interests?

        To think that Democrats haven't been bought off TOO, is to be naive. Essentially, all that is left is a bunch of corrupt corporate toadies. We'd all be better off if there was a severe earthquake right under DC, one good enough to open a crack, swallowing it whole, turning the whole fetid cesspool and every political occupant into magma.

    • by 517714 (762276)

      Why do elected republicans always side with large corporations? The impact the merger will have on jobs is that they will be reduced as AT&T consolidates redundant positions.

      FTFY

      I would like to know why you think this is relevant? Republicans will not be responsible for how this goes down regardless of their posturing - the DoJ is Obama's, and the courts are unaffiliated.

      I suspect that the majority of Republican voters would prefer the DoJ to prevail on this one. I haven't talked to anyone from either party who favors the merger going through, though several have expressed skepticism at the claim that "the Justice Department doesn't use litigation as a settlement tactic", a

    • Why do republicans always side with large corporations?

      The same reason the Democrats do - fund raising. It's not like the Dem's don't have their own corporate favorites, like GE, who wangled waivers from ObamaCare. They now even have their own version of crooked corporate friends in Solyndra.

  • Last time I checked the cable companies are more anti trust than cell this venture between At&T and T-mobile.
    • by Jeng (926980)

      That is no excuse to allow even less competition.

      All it means is that the DOJ should also be looking at the competition between cable providers.

      Two wrongs do not make a right.

      • by sconeu (64226)

        What competition?

        They're granted monopolies by the municipalities.

        • Re:WHY (Score:5, Informative)

          by Pieroxy (222434) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:53PM (#37358112) Homepage

          This! One thousand and two times this!

          No cable provider has a monopoly... across the US. But none has competition in its area. They're essentially mini-monopolies. Why do you think internet access sucks that much in the US? There is virtually no competition.

          When I lived there (2000-2004) I lived through 4 different places. In the SF bay area. I had to change providers everytime, and everytime I had no choice.

          In France, I can choose btw at least 8 providers in urban areas. Result? Free calls (>200 countries), free TV (100 channels), Unlimited internet (and trust me, it's uncapped and unthrottled) 20MB/2MB for 30€/month.

  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xacid (560407) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:59PM (#37357636) Journal

    How in the hell does acquiring a company like this result in MORE competition?

    And lower rates? Just like us Cingular customers got? Yeah, right.

    How can they even make such claims - that's damned near perjury.

    • How in the hell does acquiring a company like this result in MORE competition?

      Why it's obvious... they are increasing the number of competitors from 4 to 3!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I Agree, but the more glaring item for me is the question from republicans about "Did the decision to oppose the merger consider the impact on jobs or economic growth???". this is comical to say the least, as ALL mergers result in job loss and what I would call REAL economic contraction. The ONLY point of a merger like this is to create a company with the combined market share of the original companies, but with a smaller overhead through the elimination of duplicate administrative overhead. The ONLY peo

    • Justice Dept ought to just look at AT&T, say, "We split you up before, we can do it again if you like, hmmm? So siddown and STFU!"
      • by anagama (611277)
        AT&T says: Now that we have immunity for the all illegal stuff we did for you back when, we might be inclined to tattle.
        • Don't say that to people that can "disappear" you... Ever.

          It's amazing how many executives have DNA on dead homosexual hookers this week... DOJ says so... Flies in most courts.

    • by guruevi (827432)

      The only way they can guarantee this is by making clear contracts. If you want to take over T-Mobile, for the next 10 year you are to license the spectrum freed to anyone newcomer that is not a spinoff or daughter of AT&T for free. Maximum prices should be established and follow the cost of wholesale bandwidth for the next 50 years. Also, no phones on the GSM network should be locked to the carrier unless more than 3 nationwide GSM carriers exist. Non-negotiable, non-refundable.

  • Lessee... fewer competitors increases competition. Wait, I'm sure I got that wrong. Fewer ComPETitors increases COMPETition. Fewer... increases... Competitors... competition... competitors... Sorry I just can't make that work.

    • For sufficiently small values of "increase". I love how they name all the competition like MetroPCS are serious competition to them. As far as I know this merger would have made AT&T the only provider of GSM in the US. All the competitors they named operate CDMA networks.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Agreed, and having AT&T the only GSM carrier is a frightening prospect.

        • by yuna49 (905461)

          Most of the discussion of this merger in the mainstream media doesn't address this aspect of the deal at all. I admit I haven't read the DOJ's complaint, but again the coverage of the suit didn't mention monopolization of GSM services either.

          Is this just "too geeky" for public discussion? As a current AT&T subscriber who was considering switching to T-Mobile before the merger was announced, monopolization of GSM services seemed the principal issue to me. I appreciate the ability to buy my own hardwar

  • Wait, are the Republicans really suggesting that a merger would create jobs? Do they understand how acquisitions work?
    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      Senate Republicans are pro-corporate world. They only look out for each-other's interests and the interests of those companies that will give them large campaign contributions.

      Everyone is tossing the "job creation" thing about because they know the masses are concerned about jobs. They don't actually care about the jobs.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Yes they do. They side with mega-corporations and the mega rich, and they acquire wealth.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      http://www.truth-out.org/goodbye-all-reflections-gop-operative-who-left-cult/1314907779

      Saturday 3 September 2011
      by: Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis

      (Photo: Carolyn Tiry / Flickr)

      Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"

      Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)

      Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of th

    • A lot of them are Lawyers...
      Mergers always mean more money for lawsuits!

  • Wireless competition is fierce: prices have declined steadily, output is expanding, technological innovation is occurring at an extraordinary pace, and new providers with innovative business models have successfully entered and expanded.

    What the kind of upside down, crazy world do they live in? Whose cellular bill has ever declined but by act of the customer switching to a more restrictive plane. What businesses have "successfully" entered and expanded in the market? I keep seeing fewer and fewer choices. We're now down to Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T and they're trying to take T-Mobile off the list. When Verizon gobbles up Sprint and AT&T am I to believe that's competitive and a benefit to consumers also?

  • House Republicans have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an explanation of 'what went into the decision to challenge the merger and whether the agencies considered the impact on jobs and economic growth.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it AT&T's MO to merge then pretty much nuke the other company and fold it into their own? Wouldn't this eliminate tens of thousands of jobs?

    • You are correct on the jobs portion, but you forgot another reduction: Coverage. When Cingular purchased AT&T Mobility, Cingular cut off a lot of the towers/antennas that AT&T Mobility was operating. Only when Cingular has no other choice did it actually keep a "blue tower" or old AT&T Mobility tower operating. So, the idea that coverage will improve is horseshit. The current plan is the same as the old Cingular plan was.

      AT&T might, might improve its coverage, to some degree, with the p

      • by Legion303 (97901)

        And neither will competition increase. It's almost as though the truth is exactly opposite what AT&T is claiming. And by "almost," of course, I mean "exactly."

  • If the merger goes through and AT&T lowers their prices as a result, I will eat my hat.

    • I am pretty sure the prices will go down, for a very short while after the merger. It makes AT&T look good. Once the merger has been forgotten (read the very quarter), the price will be raised heavily.

      Be ready to eat your hat, sir!

  • I am currently a T-mobile customer and have been happy with them for over 5 years. They have a great selection of plans and phones, good customer service, and their add-ons aren't ridiculously priced. If this merger somehow goes through, I guarantee I will switch to a different carrier on the day it's announced. Again, Fuck You.
    • by blargster (239820)

      T-Mobile is hardly the victim here, nor AT&T the aggressor, it is T-Mobile's parent company that wants to get rid of them. Since AT&T is the most logical buyer, how can you blame them?

  • It's not DoJ's or FCC's job to consider the "impact on jobs and economic growth." It's their job to enforce antitrust law.
  • and freeing up spectrum

    Then they can give that "freed up spectrum" back to the public sector.

  • Since Google bought Motorola, Google needs to step up and buy T-mobile
  • Competition my ass... Hey AT&T.... Where's my $49.99 Unlimited Voice/SMS/Data plan option to compete with T-Mobile's current advertising blitz?

    Oh. My bill is still $132.00/month for Unlimited Voice/SMS/Data?
    Yeah... That's what I thought.

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