Tech wrap: AT&T, T-Mobile deal less likely than ever

November 24, 2011

The chances of AT&T’s bid for T-Mobile USA succeeding rapidly diminshed after AT&T said it would take a $4 billion charge in case its takeover fails. The telecommunications group and T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom, said they would continue to pursue anti-trust approval for the $39 billion takeover from the Department of Justice, but withdrew for now applications to the industry regulator.

Both the DOJ and the FCC oppose the deal. FCC approval would be meaningless if the DOJ blocked the transaction, and AT&T and Deutsche Telekom said they would return to the FCC process if they secured approval from the DOJ. Analysts said the merger, badly needed by sub-scale T-Mobile USA , looked less likely than ever to succeed.

Microsoft is planning the first beta of its Office 15 software in January, techblog WinRumors writes.

Microsoft will provide a Technology Preview of the software initially, expected at CES 2012 alongside the Windows 8 beta. Office 15 will be designed with touch at the heart of the applications. Microsoft has redesigned the general look and feel of its popular Outlook email client to make it usable by touch, pen and mouse.

Internet service providers cannot be forced to block their users from downloading songs illegally, as such an order would breach EU rules, Europe’s highest court said. The Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (ECJ) issued its verdict in a case involving Belgian music royalty collecting society SABAM and Belgian telecom operator Belgacom unit Scarlet. European consumer organization BEUC said the ruling should get authorities and companies thinking about a fairer way to provide easily accessible legal digital content for consumers.

Alibaba.com, China’s largest e-commerce firm, posted an 11.9 percent rise in quarterly net profit, its slowest growth in nearly two years, with the company raising concerns due to a weak trade outlook stemming from debt woes in the U.S. and Europe. The third-quarter results missed analyst forecasts and were attributed to a weak macroeconomic climate that led to a slower pace of customer additions.

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On a more positive note, the AT&T plan to acquire T-Mobile has raised awareness for the need to apply more radio spectrum to wireless broadband services — particularly in rural America.

Moreover, perhaps we’ll see the FCC announce support for more unlicensed spectrum (taken from abandoned analog TV channels) in 2012.

David H. Deans

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