AT&T Dials Up More Than $3 Million for Obama Inauguration

Photograph by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The AT&T Mobility booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, gave $3.1 million to President Barack Obama’s inaugural committee at a time when the federal government is deciding how to auction airwaves coveted by the Dallas-based wireless provider.

The president’s  inaugural committee, in a reversal of the policy of four years ago, has declined to identify the amounts of donations in advance of its report to the Federal Election Commission. The AT&T contribution, including $123,061 of in-kind communications services, was disclosed in a separate report to Congress.

Also in a reversal of its policy of four years ago, the Obama inaugural committee agreed to take corporate donations and did not set a maximum contribution limit.

Obama’s Federal Communications Commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, supports setting aside some spectrum for wifi. That would result in fewer available airwaves for companies like AT&T.

Opposition from the FCC and the Obama Justice Department helped scuttle plans by AT&T to merge with T-Mobile Inc. The company’s political action committee later contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Obama’s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.

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