As the FCC braced for its initial wave of comments on the proposed $39 billion union of AT&T and T-Mobile USA (see story below), the agency asked AT&T and T-Mobile to provide further information by June 10 on various public interest claims that are spelled out in their merger application. Chief among them was AT&T’s contention that the acquisition of T-Mobile’s network assets provides the best means of addressing spectrum and capacity constraints that are “more severe” than for any other wireless carrier. The 78-page request was delivered to the companies last Friday on the heels of a hearing, conducted by members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, at which AT&T and T-Mobile executives were questioned once again on the competitive impacts of their merger on the wireless market. Signed by the chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the letter poses 50 questions to AT&T and 47 questions to T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom (DT). Specifically, the letter asks the parties to submit “all plans, analyses and reports” to support AT&T’s claims on the severity of its spectrum and capacity constraints and on AT&T’s contention that such constraints may prevent it from deploying fourth generation (4G) long-term evolution (LTE) technology in certain markets. The letter also asks for documentation on what alternative methods of boosting spectrum capacity, such as channel repurposing, spectrum acquisitions, or construction of new cell sites, were considered by each company. Addressing T-Mobile’s claim that, absent the merger, it lacks “a clear path to LTE deployment,” the letter also asks DT to provide a copy of TMobile’s January 20 presentation to investors in which the carrier proclaimed that the HSPA+ technology currently used in its network constitutes a viable competitive alternative to 4G LTE technology and thus “provides [a] cost-effective and technically flexible path to LTE.” Among other things, the letter also asks for details about AT&T’s coverage areas, especially areas where AT&T says it “does not possess sufficient spectrum to deploy LTE.” Although T-Mobile offered no comment, a spokesman for AT&T replied: “we will provide the FCC with all the data it needs to evaluate the transaction, and we are confident that, after doing so, the FCC will recognize the significant public interest benefits and approve the transaction.”