AT&T cleared another hurdle in its marathon bid to acquire T-Mobile USA after gaining approval last week of the deal by Arizona, the first state to give its blessing to the merger.
The Arizona Corporation Commission, the state agency that oversees telecom providers, approved AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA, the nation's fourth biggest wireless provider, without a hearing and with a minimal condition requiring the firm to notify T-Mobile customers by mail of the deal.
Only four other states -- California, Hawaii, Louisiana and West Virginia -- have indicated an interest in examining the acquisition. The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are currently reviewing the merger.
"As indicated previously, there will be no interruption or decrease in the wireless services provided to the T-Mobile customers as a result of the acquisition," the June 27 order from the Arizona commission approving the deal says. "The acquisition will have no impact on the rates, terms and conditions of the AT&T subsidiaries' Arizona tariffs or on their ability to provide service."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer came out in support of the merger last month, joining more than two dozen other governors in backing the deal.
"This deal is a springboard for launching American wireless service into the next generation," Brewer, a Republican, wrote in a June 20th letter to the FCC. "Providing more Arizonans the opportunity to utilize high-speed wireless broadband will give our great state a needed edge to continue to succeed on the global stage."
Critics argue that the deal will harm wireless competition and lead to higher prices and less innovation for consumers. They worry it will result in further consolidation in the industry. If the deal is approved, AT&T, the second biggest wireless provider, will leapfrog the nation's top provider Verizon Wireless and leave only three major national wireless providers.