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AT&T, T-Mobile at Odds Over Spectrum Issue

March 21, 2011

While merger partners AT&T and T-Mobile have been talking up their synergies, they're actually lobbying against each other on a critical matter involving spectrum for first responders.

At issue is the D-block, airwaves that police, fire and rescue squads claim for a planned nationwide wireless emergency communications network. T-Mobile wants the D-block auctioned to commercial carriers, and insists that public safety groups already have a sufficient amount of megahertz for the network.

AT&T, which along with Verizon could be barred from bidding on the frequencies due to their vast spectrum holdings, wants the airwaves given directly to first responders, a move that it argues would ensure a more robust network.

Further complicating the situation, T-Mobile is allied with Sprint -- which announced Monday that it strongly opposes a merger of AT&T and T-Mobile -- against AT&T on the D-block.

Now that AT&T and T-Mobile plan to combine, one of them, presumably T-Mobile, would have to balk. An AT&T spokeswoman did not have any immediate comment, while a T-Mobile spokesman could not be reached at deadline.

Read more about the proposed $39 billion merger here

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