updated 12:45 pm EDT, Tue June 21, 2011
Sprint attacks ATT T-Mobile merger through help
Sprint chose an unusual strategy in its opposition to AT&T's proposed buyout of T-Mobile by offering a solution to AT&T's claimed spectrum crisis. An FCC filing (below) claimed AT&T could increase its network capacity 600 percent by 2015 simply by making better use of the network resources it has. Using its large resource of unused spectrum for 4G could improve capacity by 250 percent alone; introducing a mixed-size network with both large and small cells could boost it by 300 percent, Sprint argued.
The carrier believed AT&T's $39 billion asking price for T-Mobile could be better spent on accelerating how quickly it rolled out technologies like LTE. The technique would not only be more affordable but could actually give AT&T more capacity than by what it was proposing with the merger, according to Sprint. It also wouldn't have to wait for approval and integration to start improving its service.
Sprint used the filing to bring in additional criticisms, providing evidence that Cricket, MetroPCS, and many of the other smaller carriers weren't acting as significant competition to AT&T. The rival provider wasn't investing as much in its network as the average for other carriers and that other carriers weren't facing the same problems. Neither T-Mobile nor Verizon had the same capacity problems as AT&T, even in the same areas.
AT&T has already insisted that it was holding the spectrum because it needed more to fulfill a national rollout plan. T-Mobile would be used primarily to help get rural access to 4G, it said. The one-time iPhone exclusive provider has tried to portray T-Mobile as a non-threat whose acqusition wouldn't do harm to the rest of the market and that, in return, about 97 percent of the US population would get LTE.
The carrier hadn't yet answered Sprint's proposed solution to its network problems.
Sprint shot back and saw the LTE expansion as less of a promise and more of a "empty threat" of holding its expansion back unless it got exactly what it wanted. AT&T's contentions also supposedly ignored the hidden costs of the expansion and that, even if the number of carriers remained competitive, it would hurt the chances of getting devices like the iPhone or of keeping prices down.