Sprint attacks AT&T, T-Mobile deal

The merger would make AT&T the leading operator in the United States.
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After Sprint CEO Dan Hesse spoke out against the deal in a public forum at CTIA, the telco has now confirmed that it will formally oppose the proposed $39 billion purchase of the nation’s fourth-largest carrier, T-Mobile USA, by AT&T.

By combining AT&T, currently the country’s second-largest operator, with T-Mobile, AT&T would become the market leader with slightly less than 130 million subscribers and a 42 percent market share, according to Wireless Intelligence. Together, AT&T and Verizon Wireless capture 72 percent of the country's wireless subscribers as well as 76.4 percent of the country’s wireless revenue, leaving Sprint the third-largest carrier with a distinctly smaller market share, estimated by Wireless Intelligence at 16 percent.

Sprint’s contention is that the creation of a behemoth with 129.2 million subscribers would reduce competition and harm consumers and the U.S. economy. Furthermore, with AT&T dominating the wireless landscape, it would impact decisions of handset manufacturers and backhaul operators.

According to FierceWireless’ interview with Larry Krevor, Sprint’s vice president of government affairs, the telcos will express its concerns at congressional hearings and also lobby members of Congress. The House Judiciary Committee will likely hold a hearing on the deal, but no date has been set. Sprint also plans to file its objections with the FCC and the Department of Justice, both of which have jurisdiction over the deal.

Other companies that oppose the purchase are Clearwire, LightSquared and the Rural Cellular Association, whose members include MetroPCS and Cellular South. Nonetheless, many industry watchers believe that U.S. regulators will approve the deal, a belief underlined by Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead, who believes that if enough concessions are made, the deal is done. The process of the FCC and Department of Justice approving the merger is expected to take up to one year.