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While talking green, Sprint CEO slams T-Mobile-AT&T merger

In between boasting of the carrier's green initiatives and introducing the new Samsung Replenish, Sprint CEO criticized the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.

Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse

SAN FRANCISCO--Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said earlier today that the proposed merger between T-Mobile and AT&T will create a duopoly in wireless that will slow innovation and move America backward.

"Competition will be stifled, growth will be stifled and wireless innovation will be jeopardized," he said while speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. "We just can't let this happen."

Though Hesse largely focused on Sprint's green initiatives and the formal unveiling of the eco-friendly Samsung Replenish during his speech, he also took several shots at the deal that would create the country's largest wireless carrier. The result was a somewhat schizophrenic hour that lurched abruptly between the two topics while sometimes connecting them

"If allowed to push forward [the merger] would push the wireless industry into a duopoly," he said while. "Innovation is at risk and green initiatives [in the wireless industry] are at risk."

When asked exactly how the merger would disrupt Sprint's green efforts, Hesse declined to be specific. Instead, he pressed his case that an AT&T and T-Mobile marriage would be bad for customers because of less competition, higher prices, and a decreased spirit of innovation. He also refused to elaborate on what Sprint would do if the merger goes through, saying only that "we'll continue to compete as well as we can."

One of the more interesting points during the event came when the moderator asked Hesse why a rumored venture between Sprint and T-Mobile would have been OK. Hesse denied that the two carriers were ever in talks, but he responded that it was all a discussion of size. "Theoretically, if Sprint and T-Mobile were talking, they are much, much smaller companies than either AT&T or Verizon," he said. "If we had combined, we'd be the third largest carrier."

Though most of the wireless industry has remained silent on AT&T's T-Mobile bid, Sprint announced its opposition almost immediately on March 21 and repeated its arguments in an official statement a week later.

Still, Hesse said today that he expect other companies to join Sprint in blocking the deal. He also encouraged audience members to let their voice be heard. "I think a number of companies will oppose it," he said before exiting the stage. "I'm encouraged that everyone I've talked to is taking a close look."