Gallant said AT&T's filing reinforced his view that the FCC is likely to approve the deal. "The main risk we saw was spectrum aggregation in some markets," Gallant wrote. But that issue can be dealt with through divestitures in specific markets.
Previously, Gallant noted that the regulators have been focused on preserving competition between the four major carriers -- AT&T, T-Mobile (TMUS), Sprint Nextel (S) and Verizon (VZ) -- and have disregarded competition from Leap and Metro PCS when it comes to measuring the state of play between the four large players. In rejecting the proposed combination of AT&T and T-Mobile two years ago, the Department of Justice and the FCC concluded that regional carriers like Leap were not meaningful competitors to AT&T.
For its part, AT&T says it is committed to the prepaid market and has the capacity to improve the services Cricket already offers.
"Leap's limited network footprint allows it to offer facilities-based services to less than one-third of the U.S. population, and Leap relies on other wireless carriers for roaming and