So let me get this straight. The economy is slumping, economists are warning of a double-dip, and the Obama Administration is pleading for companies to invest.
But clearly Obama’s telecom regulators didn’t get the memo, based on the way they are treating AT&T, a company that actually invested almost $20 billion in the U.S. last year, tops in the country. Rather than encouraging AT&T to speed up investment in this period of economic weakness, the regulators actually seem intent on slowing down the telecom provider.
The latest move: An indefinite postponement of AT&T’s request to buy some wireless licenses from Qualcomm, originally proposed in February. From Reuters
AT&T Inc’s $1.9 billion offer for some of Qualcomm Inc’s wireless licenses will be tied to a simultaneous review of AT&T’s $39 billion proposed takeover of T-Mobile USA, U.S. communications regulators said in a letter sent late on Monday.
The Federal Communications Commission, citing the many related issues, dropped the agency’s informal 180-day timeline for review of the Qualcomm deal. The move could significantly delay completion of the smaller Qualcomm deal because the review of AT&T’s bid for Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile is expected to span at least into the first quarter of 2012.
Qualcomm said swift action on its deal was in line with the FCC’s goal to free up more airwaves for mobile broadband use. The company said the deal would not only re-purpose unused spectrum for wireless Internet services, but it would also allow it to invest and deploy more spectrum efficient technology.
I’m sure this choice seemed perfectly reasonable to the regulators, and who knows, in some ideal world it might be the right thing to do. But on the day that the stock market is crash, a move to slow down a successful business sends another signal that the priority of the Obama Administration is regulation rather than the state of the economy today. No wonder voters don’t believe Obama is serious about jobs and investment.