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Judge urges AT&T, DoJ to discuss settlement at Sept. 21 hearing

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
The federal judge in charge of the Justice Department's case against the AT&T and T-Mobile merger has ordered the federal agency and AT&T to come to a Sept. 21 hearing prepared to discuss a settlement option.

Judge Ellen Huvelle also signed an order earlier this week requiring the Justice Department, AT&T and T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom to file a joint plan on scheduling and managing the case by Sept. 16, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The Justice Department filed its antitrust lawsuit to block the proposed acquisition on Aug. 31. The suit apparently caught AT&T executives by surprise, as they had expected to have more time to present their case.

The agency's case has been taken as a major blow to AT&T and T-Mobile's chances of finalizing the deal. But, Justice Department acting assistant attorney general Sharis Pozen has said "our door is open," despite having serious concerns.

A settlement would come as a surprise to some, though, because of the decisiveness with which the agency filed its lawsuit. It is true that you can always settle a case, but the Justice Department doesnt use litigation as a settlement tactic, said Harold Feld, the legal director of a consumer group opposing the deal, last week.

Rival carrier Sprint has filed its own lawsuit in opposition of the deal. As the third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., the company alleges it would face an unfair duopoly of AT&T and Verizon if the former were allowed to purchase fourth-place T-Mobile.

In its suit, Sprint cites Apple's iPhone as a "classic example" of the advantage that AT&T and Verizon enjoy as the nation's two largest wireless carriers. According to a court filing, an exclusive arrangement for AT&T and a "time-to-market advantage" for Verizon have left Sprint competing "without access to the iPhone for nearly five years." That could change this fall, however, as the company will reportedly begin selling the iPhone 5 alongside its larger rivals.
post #2 of 31
Hey Ellen, T and tMobile - let's see the DoJ make the case the sale breaks U.S. anti-trust law. Or is this another trade time and money for forcing concessions In some settlement?

Edit: Now seriously Eric, I have three little letter for you.... K. S. M.
post #3 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

It is true that you can always settle a case, but the Justice Department doesnt use litigation as a settlement tactic, said Harold Feld, the legal director of a consumer group opposing the deal, last week.

In these tough economic times every government official is looking for extra revenue. Here is a chance to charge ATT some money to fund DoJ.
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post #4 of 31
AT&T should drop the whole merger, or FCC should order it stopped.

There is nothing to settle. AT&T has a distortion reality of what consumer protection is.
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

In these tough economic times every government official is looking for extra revenue. Here is a chance to charge ATT some money to fund DoJ.

You quoted what I was going to quote. How is it that a judge can ask their own team to just settle like that? That's really weird, right?

Even if the DOJ settles for like $10B, where does that money go? Directly to the DOJ? Is the DOJ a corporation now, too?

If we can blatantly pay off the long arm of the law and bypass the courts altogether for serious matters like this, then America is finished... and I'm no patriot, this is just bonkers...
post #6 of 31
How do you file a law suit decisively?

decisively

de·ci·sive
adjective
1.
having the power or quality of deciding; putting an end to controversy; crucial or most important: Your argument was the decisive one.
2.
characterized by or displaying no or little hesitation; resolute; determined: The general was known for his decisive manner.
3.
indisputable; definite: a decisive defeat.
4.
unsurpassable; commanding: a decisive lead in the voting.

ok - I suppose definition 2 would qualify - but even so the suit was not filed the day the news of possible merge was first in the media - or the same day as the meeting - and even then the document may have been worked up weeks in advance and gone through multiple revisions - with the meeting being the last hope of AVOIDING a suit altogether - so rather than without hesitation - unless someone talked to the parties involved - it might be just as accurate to say that it was files reluctantly or despite efforts to avoid legal proceedings.
post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

In these tough economic times every government official is looking for extra revenue. Here is a chance to charge ATT some money to fund DoJ.

A settlement would not involve ATT paying money to the government. It would be a revised set of conditions under which the merger would be allowed to proceed.
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

You quoted what I was going to quote. How is it that a judge can ask their own team to just settle like that? That's really weird, right?

Even if the DOJ settles for like $10B, where does that money go? Directly to the DOJ? Is the DOJ a corporation now, too?

If we can blatantly pay off the long arm of the law and bypass the courts altogether for serious matters like this, then America is finished... and I'm no patriot, this is just bonkers...

This is really basic stuff... the DOJ is not part of the judiciary. They are part of law enforcement.
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

This is really basic stuff... the DOJ is not part of the judiciary. They are part of law enforcement.

What law did AT&T break (or about to break)? A Market Share law? If so, should Apple be next for "controlling" 80% of the tablet market?
post #10 of 31
How much is AT&T paying this judge, I wonder?
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

What law did AT&T break (or about to break)? A Market Share law? If so, should Apple be next for "controlling" 80% of the tablet market?

It's really disturbing to see people (not you, obviously) throw out thoughts/rants that have no basis in real law. Anti-trust law and the concepts behind them are quite basic yet many folks apparently have no idea what they are. Why is that?
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by OC4Theo View Post

AT&T should drop the whole merger, or FCC should order it stopped.

There is nothing to settle. AT&T has a distortion reality of what consumer protection is.

Their view is not distorted in any way. They know what consumer protection is. They simply don't care and are lying out their teeth.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

It's really disturbing to see people (not you, obviously) throw out thoughts/rants that have no basis in real law. Anti-trust law and the concepts behind them are quite basic yet many folks apparently have no idea what they are. Why is that?

Because most of us have never been to law school - and in a time when there are 1000s of sources of information - it is too easy to become overwhelmed by the info - even though it may be easier than every to do research on at topic.

"The media" has decided that the US public is stupid - and so creates information streams geared toward the lowest common denominator - not realizing that they are in fact pushing that denominator ever lower - when they could instead be lifting us up.

For many - there is no desire to dig deeper - and so "we" as a nation get bad rap - not because there aren't plenty of intelligent people - but because the only "good" stories are the "bad' stories.

Add to that the adversarial nature of our legal and electorate systems - and we are left now knowing who or what to believe.
post #14 of 31
Try the

"Cell phone free 30 day test".

Turn your cell phone off for 30 days and discover at the end you will still be alive. Then you will remember that you existence does not depend on having a cell phone. I live fine without one. To expect the government to protect you from something that is entirely your choice to be victimized by is not realistic.

This merger will go through. Everyone who chooses to participate will pay more in the future and get worse service. They will all whine and bemoan the treatment but when the new shiny iPhone comes out they will sign up for another two years of contractual abuse. Bobbles and beads, bobbles and beads. Works every time.
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by kent909 View Post

Try the

"Cell phone free 30 day test".

Turn your cell phone off for 30 days and discover at the end you will still be alive. Then you will remember that you existence does not depend on having a cell phone. I live fine without one. To expect the government to protect you from something that is entirely your choice to be victimized by is not realistic.

This merger will go through. Everyone who chooses to participate will pay more in the future and get worse service. They will all whine and bemoan the treatment but when the new shiny iPhone comes out they will sign up for another two years of contractual abuse. Bobbles and beads, bobbles and beads. Works every time.

yeah - I might be alive after 30 days without a cell phone - but would I still be employed?
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

yeah - I might be alive after 30 days without a cell phone - but would I still be employed?

+1 on that.

 

 

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post #17 of 31
At least the DOJ is looking out for the interests of the US consumer. Wish our regulators in Canada had a similar disposition.

T-Mobile has been a pioneer in the US. They rolled the dice so many times when others wouldn't. It's a network that adopts technologies early on. Android, WebOS, Blackberry, Sidekick, all got huge boosts on T-Mobile, when other networks wouldn't give them the time of day.

There's also their price plans (unlimited data without overages) and pre-paid offerings. Competitive offerings that are becoming endangered species these days.
post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

What law did AT&T break (or about to break)? A Market Share law? If so, should Apple be next for "controlling" 80% of the tablet market?

Only if they abuse their market power by, for example, manipulating prices or raising unfair barriers to entry.

"The purpose of the [Sherman] Act is not to protect businesses from the working of the market; it is to protect the public from the failure of the market. The law directs itself not against conduct which is competitive, even severely so, but against conduct which unfairly tends to destroy competition itself.[5] This focus of U.S. competition law, on protection of competition rather than competitors, is not necessarily the only possible focus or purpose of competition law."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Antitrust_Act
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetz View Post

At least the DOJ is looking out for the interests of the US consumer. Wish our regulators in Canada had a similar disposition.

T-Mobile has been a pioneer in the US. They rolled the dice so many times when others wouldn't. It's a network that adopts technologies early on. Android, WebOS, Blackberry, Sidekick, all got huge boosts on T-Mobile, when other networks wouldn't give them the time of day.

There's also their price plans (unlimited data without overages) and pre-paid offerings. Competitive offerings that are becoming endangered species these days.

Yup. The person who invents more efficient use of spectrum to allow more carriers to exist should get a giant statue in DC.
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post #20 of 31
This will ultimately go through, with ATT making some concessions.

If not, T-Mobile will end up on the block anyway. That outcome does not help its current customers either - in fact, it's arguably worse.
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

What law did AT&T break (or about to break)? A Market Share law? If so, should Apple be next for "controlling" 80% of the tablet market?

You must not had read the comment I quoted. Here's the relevant part:

"How is it that a judge can ask their own team to just settle like that? That's really weird, right?"

I was pointing out that the the judge and the DOJ are not at all in the same organization.
post #22 of 31
Perhaps this is a sign that the judge is skeptical of the DOJ's argument?
post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by KPOM View Post

Perhaps this is a sign that the judge is skeptical of the DOJ's argument?

Or perhaps it's the inevitable end with T and DT conceding something to get it moving. Probably handing some spectrum back to FCC which will just get auctioned back out ($$$$) or promises to deliver 3G and 4G to more rural areas.

These kinda suits are odd to me. A trial without a crime or charge. Prove yourself innocent. Prove your thoughts and intentions aren't so competitive that it would appear you are trying to beat any of your competition out of a space - even the ones that don't want to be in the space anymore.
post #24 of 31
This is not a big deal. If you actually read the order, most of it is about scheduling the trial. At the end she orders the parties to be prepared to discuss the PROSPECTS of a settlement, not a settlement itself. This is routine. AI is searching hard for a story here.
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

Or perhaps it's the inevitable end with T and DT conceding something to get it moving. Probably handing some spectrum back to FCC which will just get auctioned back out ($$$$) or promises to deliver 3G and 4G to more rural areas.

These kinda suits are odd to me. A trial without a crime or charge. Prove yourself innocent. Prove your thoughts and intentions aren't so competitive that it would appear you are trying to beat any of your competition out of a space - even the ones that don't want to be in the space anymore.

So is a suit to stop a power plant from being built next to your house also odd?
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

Or perhaps it's the inevitable end with T and DT conceding something to get it moving. Probably handing some spectrum back to FCC which will just get auctioned back out ($$$$) or promises to deliver 3G and 4G to more rural areas.

These kinda suits are odd to me. A trial without a crime or charge. Prove yourself innocent. Prove your thoughts and intentions aren't so competitive that it would appear you are trying to beat any of your competition out of a space - even the ones that don't want to be in the space anymore.

AT&T will probably agree to dump the least profitable parts to another carrier like verizon did when they acquired alltel.
post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by icazzi View Post

So is a suit to stop a power plant from being built next to your house also odd?

That's civil, right? I'm OK with showing my ignorance here - is the DoJ filing a civil action?
post #28 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

That's civil, right? I'm OK with showing my ignorance here - is the DoJ filing a civil action?

I think it has to be a civil action... no one has broken a law.

Seems to me the only real case is around purchasing power. IOW, the ability based on market size to persuade suppliers not to sell to competitors. One has to wonder if Apple's exclusive sale of the iPhone to AT&T for a long time and then to only add VerizonWireless is what brought this all about. If (and this is speculative) AT&T persuaded Apple to not sell to anyone else for a long time then that pressure is now coming around to bite them.
post #29 of 31
The settlement should be that DOJ does their job enforcing USA laws, AT&T obeys those laws, or it can be brought into government management with increasing forfeiture of ATT shareholder assets, the more government time is wasted on law-breaking behavior by ATT.
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

yeah - I might be alive after 30 days without a cell phone - but would I still be employed?

People had jobs for hundreds of years before the invention of the cell phone. I have been employed now for five years since giving up my cell phone. Every once in awhile my boss will ask me for my cell phone # and I explain that I don't have one, but if the company would like to pay for one I would be glad to carry it around with me if they feel the need to be able to get a hold of me when I am not at the office. If you need a phone for your job then I hope your employer pays the bill. I am really speaking about the person that pays $100 a month to be able to text a friend that he saw a cool new car drive down the street while playing Angry Birds.
post #31 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

yeah - I might be alive after 30 days without a cell phone - but would I still be employed?

I refuse to carry one. My comp started going up substantially about the same time I started refusing. There's an inverse relationship between employees with phones and their productivity.
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