The Federal Communications Commission wrote to AT&T on Thursday telling it to send more information on whether its proposed merger with T-Mobile will kill jobs, charging that the company failed to answer that question in a previous information request.
"Indeed, AT&T to date has produced almost nothing in response to" queries about "whether the merger will result in a net increase of jobs within the territorial United States," Rick Kaplan, the chief of the FCC wireless bureau, told AT&T in a letter, requesting all analyses AT&T has produced internally about job growth.
AT&T says the merger would create jobs through new investments in its network and through its pledge to bring 5,000 call center jobs back from overseas. The company cites a study released in May by the Economic Policy Institute that says the deal will create between 55,000 and 96,000 jobs.
But AT&T has also acknowledged that it expects job redundancies if the companies are combined, which could result in layoffs. Merger opponents cite a study released in August, commissioned by Sprint, that says the merger will eliminate between 34,000 to 60,000 jobs.
The Justice Department, which filed suit against the merger in August, appears to believe the merger would kill jobs, an argument seemingly tied to concerns over industry consolidation. The department's rationale for its view is unclear since jobs are not discussed in its complaint against the merger.
"The view that this administration has is that through innovation and through competition, we create jobs," Deputy Attorney General James Cole said when the DOJ announced the suit last month. He said DOJ officials saw the suit as a way to protect jobs.
The merger is still under review at the FCC while the Justice Department faces off with AT&T in court. The FCC is unlikely to approve the deal during the court battle, according to agency officials. For the latest on the lawsuit, click here.