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AT&T lashes back at Sprint, Cellular South

In motions to dismiss the complaints brought up by Sprint Nextel and Cellular South, AT&T says the companies are attempting to use the court to improve their own strategic interests.

AT&T fired back at Sprint Nextel and Cellular South, the two companies that have sued to block AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

The Dallas telecommunications giant filed two motions today seeking to dismiss the complaints filed by Sprint and Cellular South.

AT&T's argument is that Sprint and Cellular South are competitors, and lack the legal standing to file a complaint, and that Sprint's secondary complaint about the deal's effect on wholesale pricing for access to the wireline ground infrastructure is immaterial.

AT&T also argues that Sprint has been disingenuous about its intent to block the deal, accusing the company of working for its own interests rather than the public's well-being. Sprint, to its credit, has regularly disclosed that its actions are done for its own interest, but it argues that its interests happen to be in line with those of the public.

"The Sprint and Cellular South complaints should be dismissed, as both are an obvious attempt to use the court to improve their own strategic interests," Wayne Watts, AT&T's general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement.

Sprint, for its part, said it wasn't surprised by the motion.

"AT&T's motion is without merit, and Sprint will respond to it next Friday," Vonya McCann, senior vice president of government affairs at Sprint, said in a statement.

AT&T, meanwhile, said Cellular South had suggested that it would not oppose the deal if AT&T would agree not to compete with the company in Mississippi. AT&T released an e-mail between Cellular South CEO Hu Meena and AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega, with Cellular South's request.

A representative of Cellular South wasn't immediately available for comment.

"Such an extraordinary and inappropriate proposal simply confirms that what Cellular South fears is competition, not an alleged lack of competition," Watts said in an e-mailed statement.

The motions come after AT&T filed a response to the Justice Department's lawsuit to block the deal.

The complaints from either side may be much ado about nothing, since Sprint or Cellular South won't have a material impact on the Justice Department case, which is really the only way the companies' actions could have real weight. AT&T said it continues to try to work out a resolution with the Justice Department even as it prepares for a trial.