It’s official: AT&T (NYSE: T) petitioned the government Thursday to take control of T-Mobile’s wireless licenses, an important step in the process of merging the two wireless carriers but probably not the last time AT&T will have meetings with federal regulators.
The petition and public interest statement released by AT&T are really just formalities and basically repeat the carrier’s talking points in favor of the $39 billion T-Mobile buy: consumers will benefit from improved access to wireless data, the wireless market will still be competitive if T-Mobile is removed from the equation, and service would actually degrade for both carriers if the deal doesn’t go through because of an upcoming spectrum crunch.
Nothing really new there: AT&T has been practicing those lines with gusto ever since it stunned the wireless industry traveling to Orlando for CTIA with news of the deal. It’s going to eventually need to make a compelling case, given how deeply Sprint (NYSE: S) appears to be digging in for a fight opposing the merger as well as public interest organizations, who almost to a group hate the deal.
Thursday’s paperwork was filed with the Federal Communications Commission, but AT&T lawyers will probably wind up spending more time crosstown at the Department of Justice, which will certainly review the deal before it goes through. AT&T is maintaining a Web site dedicated to the deal called MobilizeEverything, where it lays out its case for the merger. The paperwork filed with the FCC can be found here (click for PDF).