NEAT WIRELESS, a Wireless telecommunications company based in Northeastern Arkansas, filed a complaint against AT&T Mobility, which alleges that AT&T Mobility engaged in illegal conduct and behavior that resulted in NEAT WIRELESS failure to compete in markets it acquired from AT&T Mobility which facilitated AT&T Mobility’s merger with AWS in October 2004. NEAT WIRELESS alleges that these actions taken by AT&T Mobility resulted in NEAT WIRELESS being forced to sell back to AT&T Mobility all of the recently acquired subscriptions from AT&T Mobility in Northeaster Arkansas at distressed prices.
The FCC and Department of Justice (DOJ) both approved the merger of AWS and AT&T Mobility subject to the divestiture of certain properties, which included properties acquired by NEAT WIRELESS. One year after the initial divestiture of AWS operations in Northeastern Arkansas to NEAT WIRELESS, AT&T Mobility regained back all the subscribers it sold but not the wireless infrastructure. NEAT WIRELESS claims that the actions of AT&T Mobility is a violation of public policy, good business practices, the intent of Congress and the antitrust laws of the United States. NEAT WIRELESS also claims that AT&T Mobility’s actions violate the Final Order of the FCC allowing the merger of AT&T Mobility with AWS.
Percy L. Berger, Sr, Chairman, President, and CEO of NEAT WIRELESS said
that “we will ask Congress, DOJ, and FCC to withhold approvals of any pending mergers of AT&T and AT&T Mobility until a full, thorough and independent investigation has been conducted with respect to their actions toward NEAT WIRELESS in there merger with AWS.”
NEAT WIRELESS is playing legal hardball with AT&T by asking that AT&T be stopped from future acquisition of mobile telecommunication properties until it settles with NEAT WIRELESS. The U.S. market share is reaching the saturation point, so future growth highly relies on mergers and buyouts. The lucrative 700 MHz auction is just around the corner and AT&T may want to buy a piece of the old analogue television band. While legal antitrust complaints usually take years to adjudicate, AT&T may be willing to settle with NEAT WIRELESS to facilitate AT&T’s future expansion plans.