updated 11:50 pm EDT, Sun March 20, 2011
Sprint warns ATT T-Mobile deal antitrust concern
Sprint and T-Mobile late Sunday quickly issued formal reactions to the AT&T buyout of T-Mobile. As expected, Sprint objected to the $39 billion deal and said it would "alter dramatically" the US cellular landscape. It would put too much power in the hands of AT&T and Verizon, making them gatekeepers for things such as backbones and roaming deals.
"If approved, the merger would result in a wireless industry dominated overwhelmingly by two vertically-integrated companies that control almost 80% of the US wireless post-paid market, as well as the availability and price of key inputs such as backhaul and access needed by other wireless companies to compete," Sprint wrote.
Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller stressed to the Department of Justice and the FCC that it was "absolutely essential" the deal be investigated. He added that the Commerce Committee would be involved.
AT&T originally insisted the deal would be competitive as 18 of 20 major cities had five or more networks to compete from. Critics, however, have responded that the added clout gives AT&T an unfair advantage in device selection. T-Mobile also has unlimited-with-throttling data and doesn't block non-Market apps on Android devices, both of which would likely go away without the FCC imposing price and openness regulations on the deal.
T-Mobile, meanwhile, has chosen to back out of the official CTIA opening keynote. It was to have participated in an event at the Orlando show on Tuesday, March 22 at 9AM alongside the heads of other major carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. A statement said only that the exit was due to "extenuating work demands," though it's most likely either due to work relating to the merger or the complications of having to present after its position had suddenly changed.
A conference call discussing the AT&T and T-Mobile buyout is due to take place Monday at 7:30AM; Electronista hopes to provide live coverage.