As expected, Sprint has formally asked the FCC to deny
AT&T's proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile.
Sprint argues the combo would give the companies
anti-competitive market control. That came in a petition to deny the merger
filed Tuesday, May 31, the deadline for those petitions.
Sprint, whose CEO Dan Hesse had argued strongly against the
merger in Hill hearings on the proposed deal,
said that the deal would create "twin Bell
duopolists" out of AT&T and Verizon that would stifle innovation and
Sprint is the third largest wireless carrier, while Verizon
is number one and AT&T are two and four, respectively, according to various
accountings including wireless monitor FierceWireless.
And while AT&T has said that it needs T-Mobile's
spectrum to get almost all the way to President Obama's State of the Union call
for deploying next generation wireless broadband to 98% of the country within
five years, Sprint isn't buying it. "AT&T does not need T-Mobile to
expand its LTE network to reach 97 percent of all Americans, because its
current spectrum holdings and network already reach approximately 97 percent of
the population," said Sprint.
The company argues that A&T could spend "a fraction"
of the purchase price to expand next-generation wireless broadband.
"This proposed takeover puts our mobile broadband future at
a crossroads," said Vonya B. McCann, senior vice president of Government
Affairs for Sprint. "We can choose the open, competitive road best traveled,
and protect American consumers, innovation and our economy, or we can choose
the dead end that merely protects only AT&T and leads the rest of us back
down the dirt road to Ma Bell."
Also joining in the call to deny the deal was Free Press,
which said the resulting control by Verizon and the new AT&T of over 80% of
the market would lead to less innovation and investment. ""This outcome
may be a good deal in the short-term for the executives and shareholders of
these two companies, but it's a raw deal for the American public. The FCC must
reject this merger," said Free Press President Craig Aaron in announcing
its filing against the deal.
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.