AT&T opposes Clearwire/Sprint WiMAX merger

August 4, 2008

AT&T is opposing the proposed merger of Sprint’s WiMAX Xohm subsidiary with Clearwire.

The new venture has major support because it promises an open network, wholesale access, 6Mb/s speeds, and good national coverage. It has backers as diverse as Stanford University, the Catholic Television Network, Vonage and the Wireless Communications Association.

However, in a filing with the FCC, AT&T said that Sprint and Clearwire “should be required to demonstrate that its merger serves the public interest just like any other providers would have to do.” Until that happens, the telco argued, the deal should be put on hold.

AT&T noted that holders of Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum have leased out part of their spectrum to Clearwire for the service. This requires greater FCC oversight, it said.

However, it’s been suggested that AT&T is worried about the significant financial resources behind the Sprint-Clearwire deal, “Ars Technica” reported. In its filing, it tells the FCC, “clearly, a company that has the largest spectrum position of any mobile carrier, deploying a service that is ‘here now,’ with financial backing from Google, Intel, and three of the nation’s largest cable television companies is capable of substantially impacting competition in the mobile communications market.”

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