When AT&T announced its plans to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion last week, Sprint was quick to criticize the deal, saying that it would dramatically alter the structure of the communications industry and affect innovation--a sentiment that was echoed by Sprint CEO Dan Hesse during CTIA 2011.
In case its position wasn't clear, the carrier issued an official statement today to oppose the merger and announce its intentions to fight the deal.
Vonya McCann, Sprint's senior vice president of government affairs, said:
Sprint urges the United States government to block this anticompetitive acquisition. This transaction will harm consumers and harm competition at a time when this country can least afford it. As the first national carrier to roll out 4G services and handsets and the carrier that brought simple unlimited pricing to the marketplace, Sprint stands ready to compete in a truly dynamic marketplace. So on behalf of our customers, our industry, and our country, Sprint will fight this attempt by AT&T to undo the progress of the past 25 years and create a new Ma Bell duopoly.
Sprint added that the merger would undo nearly three decades of work by the U.S. government to modernize and open the U.S. communications markets to competition and affect job creation and investment in the American economy.
AT&T doesn't quite see it that way, stating:
The U.S. wireless market is intensely competitive with five or more competitors in 18 of the top 20 markets. The AT&T T-Mobile merger will improve quality for consumers, provide a near-term solution to spectrum exhaust, and expand the availability of LTE to 95 percent of Americans, spurring innovation and economic growth.
Sitting in third position among the U.S. wireless service providers, it's hard to ignore the fact that the merger could have a negative effect on Sprint as it tries to gain new subscribers and deal with the spectrum crisis. Despite recent efforts to provide a more open experience to customers with such offerings as integrating Google Voice into its cell phones, the AT&T-T-Mobile megamerger would only make it more difficult for Sprint to compete against Verizon and AT&T.
However, in a telephone conversation with CNET, Sprint insisted that this wasn't about big companies yelling at each other, rather it's about the consumers and making sure they get competitive prices and a large selection of devices.
Sprint said it would present its case during the public portion of the FCC hearing. The merger deal between AT&T and T-Mobile would require the approval of the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, and the process is expected to take at least 12 months to complete.