updated 03:35 pm EDT, Fri September 30, 2011
ATT motions to dismiss Cellular South, Sprint
AT&T on Friday motioned to dismiss the lawsuits of both Sprint and Cellular South attempting to block its merger with T-Mobile. The carrier giant cited lack of standing, or that it wasn't a valid plaintiff, for claimed bias. As a carrier, it couldn't claim to "wrap itself in the cloak" of the public's interest since it had a clear competitive incentive to block the deal, AT&T said.
In tackling the Cellular South suit, AT&T used a similar tactic and pointed to Cellular South CEO Hu Meena reportedly asking AT&T to soften concerns about the merger by making a network sharing agreement. Cellular South feared competition, not the absence of it, AT&T said.
While true that Cellular South and Sprint have commercial interests, it's their concerns about their ability to fairly compete that forms the cores of both their private lawsuits as well as the Department of Justice dispute. Sprint hasn't denied any stake in the matter but has said its interests happen to dovetail with genuine pro-competition concerns.
AT&T's remarks have also fallowed after claims that it had visited both providers to try and strike separate deals. During the Senate hearing on the merger, Cellular South's Meena had also complained that AT&T had refused to make a roaming deal, which AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson responded to by offering to talk privately about it outside of the Senate.
Public advocacy groups not given AT&T contributions have usually sided with Sprint's point of view, noting that AT&T would have the majority of the regular subscription phone market. AT&T has said the deal would alleviate the wireless spectrum crunch, create jobs, and help accelerate rolling out LTE to 97 percent of the population. It has had a difficult time explaining why it said it only needed $3.8 billion to reach the LTE goal in January only to decide it had to spend $39 billion and eliminate a major competitor two months later.