(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – Is it possible that the bureaucrats in Washington have completely lost their minds? (A rhetorical question at best.)
First, what passes for an Attorney General sics the Department of so-called Justice on AT&T when the company wants to buy T-Mobile.
Well, it’s an election year, the whole nation thinks that his President is a joke and these clowns assume that everybody hates cell phone companies, so slapping one around can’t hurt.
Here is what AT&T proposed to do:
They want to buy the company known as T-Mobile, which is actually 32% owned by the German Government. And a walking dead company with no hope of succeeding independently. Even the Germans acknowledge that.
Now if I had a German partner and I wanted to sell him 32% of one of my radio stations, that would be against the law. The current maximum a foreign entity can have in an FCC licensed broadcast facility is 20%. But back when Deutsche Telekom bought Voicestream Wireless, they did this cute little trick where the Federal Government took a 15% stake in the company and a bank owned by the German Federal Government took a 17% stake and, being that it was the Clinton Administration and we were operating on our best “let’s be nice to Germans” behavior, the deal slid through the FCC.
So we now have a barely legal deal where a foreign government owns 32% of a cellular company and they reach agreement with good old AT&T to reclaim an American interest.
And this administration’s FCC and Justice Department are against it.
Our Attorney General, who is ducking and weaving over a Mexican gun-running scandal, who is now suing four states over their immigration laws, who surely has more important things to do than go after AT&T thus raising your cellular phone bills in the long run, has decided that it is fundamentally wrong for an American company—in fact, a quintessentially American company—to buy American cellular licenses and spectrum from what amounts to the German Government.
Talk about reaching out and touching someone. Where’s Lily Tomlin when you need her?
And then there’s the FCC.
These clowns have lost in Federal Court on a host of silly initiatives, including fleeting expletives and the allocation of media ownership—which they are only involved in for ideological reasons to begin with.
They’re worried about competition, too. So much so that they followed their friend, the gun-running Attorney General, and set down the AT&T-T-Mobile technical applications for a hearing along the lines of the inquisition the Justice department had planned at trial in March.
Seeing that nothing good could come from giving the Obamaites a second bite at the apple, AT&T pulled their applications, thus temporarily ending that process.
And some mouthpiece at the FCC told the news media, in essence, they can’t do that, only we can do that. Which is, of course, nonsense of the kind we’ve come to expect from any agency influenced by this President. Then, the FCC released its exceedingly flawed report to the media alleging that of the deal goes through, only Omaha would actually have cellular competition in the top markets.
Anybody who knows anything about the cellular business would have to tell you that the people who wrote that report started with a conclusion and ignored the facts.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal writes about the downside of government meddling in these kinds of transactions.
When Verizon bought Alltel, they made Verizon sell a bunch of rural customers to AT&T—to avoid a lack of competition.
The only problem was that AT&T uses a different and incompatible method of digitizing phone calls and, as a result, in many of those markets, people went from great coverage to spotty coverage. So many of them left AT&T to go back to Verizon.
That’s why government should stay out of business transactions it knows nothing about.
So let’s sum up:
Eric Holder says it’s OK to run guns to Mexico but not OK for AT&T to buy out a crippled German company owned largely by the German Government.
The end game will probably be a sale of some customers to Verizon or Sprint making those customers really mad and inconvenienced.
And where is our unemployment rate today?
How is that hope and change thing working out for you now?