Sprint Nextel Wants AT&T-BellSouth Conditions

Sprint Nextel Corp., which is partnering with four cable operators in a wireless joint venture, urged the Federal Communications Commission Monday to impose conditions on AT&T Inc.’s merger with BellSouth Corp. in order to prevent the combination from harming wireless-phone competitors.

Sprint Nextel said the $67 billion merger would result in AT&T holding a dominant position in the special-access market, which includes high-capacity circuits that connect cellular sites to switches.

“Sprint Nextel has no alternative to BellSouth or AT&T for more than 99% of Sprint Nextel’s PCS [personal-communications-services] cell sites in the BellSouth and AT&T service areas,” Sprint Nextel said in an FCC filing.

Merger conditions were necessary because a combined AT&T-BellSouth could use its special-access dominance to benefit its phone subsidiary, Cingular Wireless, to the detriment of wireless competitors, Sprint Nextel said.

Sprint Nextel called for various conditions, including rate freezes and reductions, asset divestment and reporting requirements.

Sprint Nextel’s cable joint venture includes Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Bright House Networks. The companies are expected to bid together in the FCC’s pending advanced-wireless-service spectrum auction.