updated 01:50 pm EDT, Sat October 22, 2011
ATT claims Sprint denying valuable defense
AT&T on Friday asked the judge in the Sprint lawsuit against the T-Mobile deal to force Sprint to hand over documents it was seeking for its defense. The carrier claimed that Sprint hadn't answered a subpoena from September 26 for documents it hoped would help formulate a defense. The files covered relationships with companies Sprint had bought, such as Nextel and Virgin Mobile, as well as its partnership with Clearwire.
Sprint has argued that it already supplied information AT&T needed in the Department of Justice lawsuit. What more AT&T wanted went "far beyond" regular discovery of a third-party in a merger case, it said. AT&T allegedly wanted "every transaction entered into by a competitor" since 2004.
The two lawsuits, which include a third from Cellular South, contend that AT&T's buyout of T-Mobile is inherently anti-competitive by removing a major carrier. The DOJ, in filing its lawsuit, effectively stated that no amount of concessions, such as giving pieces of the existing network to competitors, would make the deal go forward.
Sprint has mostly contended that it would have no hope of competing against a carrier that would have about three quarters of subscription cellphones and which could discourage device deals, such as AT&T's ability to keep the iPhone out of Sprint's hands for more than four years.
AT&T during its latest results call insisted it's still confident it can complete the deal. Many, however, saw the provider as having potentially killed its deal after it revealed estimates from January that it only needed $3.8 billion to reach its promises of 97 percent LTE coverage in the US. It has yet to explain how it decided two months later that it needed to spend ten times more and eliminate a competitor to achieve the same goal, although it has mentioned additional benefits specific to a merger, such as better overall capacity. [via Bloomberg]