Along with the companies' filing, several intervenors also filed initial or follow-up reply comments on the 1/23 deadline. Intervenors in the review now include: Accelerated Data Works, DeltaCom, Sprint Nextel (S), Communications Workers of America, National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance, New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, NuVox and Socket Telecom, and Comptel. It must be noted that all third-parties in the FCC review are in opposition to the merger and/or are petitioning the FCC to impose various conditions on the the merger.
The New Jersey Rate Counsel filing offers a fairly good summary of the current position of the intervenors in general:
Rate Counsel reiterates its recommendation that the FCC seek additional detailed information from the Applicants and also that the FCC require tangible, measurable conditions and commitments to ensure that consumers benefit from the proposed transaction and are protected from any harm that the transaction could cause.
Again, the interest in this deal comes as somewhat of a surprise, but remains viewed as non-problematic for this transaction's overall chances for success. The third parties in this case are clearly using this review, as well as the CYCL-T review, as opportunities to aggressively participate in FCC merger reviews under a new administration. In other words, the concern/opposition is not entirely genuine as it relates to the proposed merger itself.
Although the FCC's review habits for current mergers can not be confidently gauged yet, it is reasonable to assume that the new leadership will not significantly alter the regulator's recent habit, especially in mid-sized transactions such as this one.
In sum, there continues to be no expectation of major delays in the FCC review regardless of the seemingly motivated opposition. Barrin unusual developments in the review, FCC approval remains anticipated before the end of April 2009.