Monday, July 25, 2011

When the Lawyers Arrive

Back in the 50's when the US was laying out the Interstate Highway System, a number of rural families saw their business about to fall due to the passing of motorists on the new highway with no reason to stop at their roadside stands, motels and cafes. Some families were able to convince the Highway designers to add a exit ramp, others weren't so fortunate. One affected family decided to fight back and found a way to force the feds hand. The land owner divided his acreage among his family members forcing the government to deal with dozens of hostile land owners just to build one mile of highway. They got their exit ramp.

A group of lawyers have provided a modern day roadblock to the AT&T/T-Mobile deal by dividing up a few miles of wireless highway with lawsuits representing a large number of AT&T "customers". These attorneys have filed the first of maybe a hundred legal actions that each need to be dealt with before the AT&T deal can be approved. They claim just one win will stop the process.

Fight the just may provide the kind of impasse that makes this wireless deal get bogged down in paperwork. Before you get too giddy about this development, consider that if the deal does get done, the legal costs just may indeed increase the ultimate cost of wireless to customers, just what the lawsuits are trying to prevent. Let's hope the deal blockers can also provide an alternate route for T-Mobile to take to sell off their network. Beware of unintended consequences.

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