updated 04:15 pm EDT, Mon March 28, 2011
Sprint formally opposes ATT T-Mobile merger
Sprint on Monday put out a formal statement objecting to AT&T's buyout of T-Mobile. The carrier said it planned to resist the deal where possible and reiterated its earlier view that the move would put too much power in one company and give AT&T three times the revenue. Government Affairs Senior VP Vonya McCann stopped short of implying legal action but said an approval would turn back a quarter century and return to the days of AT&T's monopoly of the US phone business pre-1984, with Verizon being the only other choice.
"Sprint urges the United States government to block this anti-competitive acquisition," she said. "This transaction will harm consumers and harm competition at a time when this country can least afford it. As the first national carrier to roll out 4G services and handsets and the carrier that brought simple unlimited pricing to the marketplace, Sprint stands ready to compete in a truly dynamic marketplace. So on behalf of our customers, our industry and our country, Sprint will fight this attempt by AT&T to undo the progress of the past 25 years and create a new Ma Bell duopoly."
The remarks echo what CEO Dan Hesse said during the spring CTIA keynote last week, where he openly criticized and joked about AT&T's behavior with the latter's wireless chief Ralph de la Vega sitting by his side. Among the criticisms were that it would stifle innovation and give AT&T 79 percent of subscription cellphone audience in the US, leaving Verizon and Sprint to get the majority of the rest as well as turn to prepaid users.
AT&T in a presentation discussing its plans tried to put a patriotic spin on the merger, saying it would solve spectrum problems by giving more Americans access to LTE and improving overall capacity.
Clues have emerged from the FCC that it could at least impose stiff conditions or even block the deal. The Department of Justice must also look at the deal and may have its own concerns.