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Consolidation Critics Jump on AT&T Leap Deal

Consolidation critics were quick to criticize AT&T's announcement that it had struck a deal to buy Leap Wireless and its Cricket pre-paid service.

Both Free Press and Public Knowledge both immediately called on the FCC and DOJ, which must vet the deal on antitrust and public interest grounds, to just say no.

"After its failed attempt to merge with T-Mobile, AT&T is back again, this time trying to gobble up another competitor in Leap," said Free Press president Craig Aaron. "We urge the Justice Department and the FCC to reject this latest attempt by AT&T to swallow a competitor."

"The following may be attributed to Harold Feld, senior VP, Public Knowledge, in response to AT&T's announcement of its bid for Leap Wireless.

"AT&T already has more wireless capacity than it needs to serve its customers -- if it would focus on using what it has rather than continuing to try to buy out competitors," said Harold Feld, senior VP of Public Knowledge. "AT&T needs to stop trying to build market share with mergers and focus on building a better network....The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission need to say 'no' to this latest effort by AT&T to buy out its rivals and rebuild 'Ma Cell.'"

AT&T announced Friday that it had struck a deal to buy Leap for $15 per share. It will keep the Cricket brand and was framing the deal as a way to increase competition in the pre-paid market.

AT&T is buying Leap stock, licenses, network assets, retail stores and about 5 million subs. It is also inheriting about $2.5 billion in debt.