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Sprint Sues AT&T–T-Mobile, Too

Sprint Nextel has filed an antitrust suit against the AT&T–T-Mobile deal in the wake of last week's antitrust suit filed by the Justice Department. Sprint has been among the biggest critics.

According to Sprint, the suit alleges the deal would harm retail consumers by boosting prices and reducing innovation, essentially echoing arguments that the Justice Department made in its suit and critics, including Sprint, have been making in their continuing opposition to the $39 billion deal.

Sprint says the combined company would also have the ability to exclude competitors for backhaul, roaming and spectrum.

AT&T has said it will fight for its deal and the public interest benefits it says would accrue, including speedier deployment of advanced wireless to rural areas, which is a public interest goal of the Obama administration and FCC.

A spokesperson was not available at press time, but AT&T has pledged publicly to fight the Justice suit in court, and is expected privately to try to work something out with Justice, which said last week its door is open if AT&T wants to try to resolve Justice's competition issues. Given how many issues there were, that would seem to be a tall order. Analysts last week saw the suit as something between a body slam and a death blow. The FCC also said it had competition issues with the deal, adding to the sense that the deal was now a long shot.

AT&T has reason to fight hard for the deal, since it has a break-up payout to T-Mobile of $3 billion plus some spectrum and a roaming agreement.