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T-Mobile responds to opponents of AT&T merger

T-Mobile responded Tuesday to filings and comments made by opponents of the $39 billion deal to merge with AT&T.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
3 min read

T-Mobile USA has finally responded to opponents of its proposed merger with AT&T.

Since the $39 billion merger was announced in March, AT&T has taken the lead in explaining the benefits of the merger, which has sparked opposition from competitors as well as consumer advocates and some states. But today it was T-Mobile that added its voice to the debate.

AT&T to buy T-Mobile

"The opponents of the AT&T, T-Mobile merger have had their final say as part of the FCC's formal leading cycle," Tom Sugrue, senior vice president of government affairs for T-Mobile, said in a statement. "And, not surprisingly, they have failed to offer any credible arguments to support their view that the Commission should deny the transaction."

Competitor Sprint Nextel has been the most vocal opponent to the deal, filing hundreds of pages of documents to the Federal Communications Commission to make its case against the merger.

AT&T has said that the main reason it is buying T-Mobile is to ensure it has enough wireless spectrum to meet future demand for its wireless broadband services. Sprint and other opponents say this argument is nonsense. And in its latest move, Sprint filed a 300-page document with the FCC explaining how AT&T can grow users and add capacity without T-Mobile's spectrum.

Sprint said in its statement on yesterday that AT&T could increase capacity by developing its "warehoused" spectrum. It could also implement "a more efficient network architecture, just as other wireless carriers around the world are doing today."

Sugrue didn't name Sprint in T-Mobile's official statement, but he said that opponents to the merger are missing the point.

"What is surprising is their repeated head-in-the-sand insistence that no spectrum crisis exists," he said. "As part of their application, AT&T and T-Mobile provided a compelling showing of their need for more spectrum to continue to provide quality service to customers and roll out new technologies in the future. And the two companies have demonstrated that a combination of their networks and spectrum holdings is by far the best way to solve this problem and ensure improved service and enhanced innovation."

Sprint and other smaller wireless carriers say that the merger between AT&T, the No. 2 wireless provider in the U.S., and T-Mobile, the No. 4 carrier, would reduce competition and stifle innovation. They also say it could increase prices for consumers and hamper companies' ability to continue to compete in the wireless market.

Others have joined Sprint in opposing the merger. The California Public Utilities Commission hasn't filed a document with the FCC in opposition of the merger, but it is conducting an investigation into how the deal will affect consumers.

New York's attorney general is also investigating the deal. And last week, New York's Public Service Commission said in comments filed with the FCC that if the merger is allowed to be completed it would not satisfy important tests to provide adequate competition.

But there has also been support for the merger. Facebook, Microsoft, and Silverlake Partners have each said that the deal would benefit their businesses and their customers because it would provide a faster and more robust wireless broadband network. Also, more than 20 governors have written the FCC supporting the deal.

Today, AT&T's general counsel, Wayne Watts, met with reporters in Washington D.C., and The Washington Post reported that he said he believes the deal is still on track to close in March 2012.

"The number one question I get from investors is can we get (the deal) done," The Washington Post quoted Watt as saying. "I think we can."

The deal must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission as well as the U.S. Department of Justice.