AT&T holds Sprint to Account

by Matt Klassen on November 16, 2011

Sprint is a two-faced liar, at least according to AT&T. Since it was officially announced that AT&T intended to purchase T-Mobile earlier this year, Sprint has taken up the stalwart mantle as official opposition, fighting the merger through both the media and every legal channel available.

The key issue for Sprint is that the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile will create a substantial market imbalance, giving AT&T control over an unnecessarily excessive amount of spectrum, or at least that’s what Sprint says publicly.

The problem, as AT&T points out, is that Sprint is using different arguments to oppose the merger in each respective avenue, arguments that when compared to each other seem strikingly contradictory.

At the outset it should be noted that this is clearly a propaganda war, so both Sprint’s opposition and AT&T’s counter-arguments should all be taken with a grain of salt as each of us decide what we think about the pending merger. With that in mind, crying ‘foul’ regarding the apparent duality in Sprint’s opposition is merely the latest ploy by AT&T to undercut Sprint’s complaints by destroying the company’s credibility.

As I mentioned previously, Sprint’s primary concern, as voiced through the media, is the glut of spectrum AT&T will hold should this merger go through, spectrum the company clearly doesn’t need. Of course AT&T has claimed that it is in desperate need of more spectrum as it looks to increase its network coverage, speed, and services in the near future.

Beyond that, Sprint has publicly argued that the merger would cost jobs, hurt market competition, prevent the best handsets from reaching Sprint, and essentially create a wireless duopoly with Verizon, driving the smaller companies like Sprint out of business.

Apparent contradictions in Sprint’s opposition were discovered, however, when AT&T was granted access to the former’s confidential documents submitted to the FCC in regards to the pending AT&T/T-Mobile merger. In the confidential files Sprint admits that such wireless mergers may in fact boost the mobile market, creating “immense synergies” that help drive the market forward.

Further, in these confidential FCC documents Sprint claims it holds the strongest spectrum position of all the major American wireless carriers and concedes the fact that AT&T is facing a spectrum crisis. Finally, Sprint admitted that to date it has had no problem securing the top mobile handset, saying nothing about how Sprint would fair in a two company market duopoly.

As expected AT&T is using Sprint’s seemingly contradictory arguments as a platform to undermine the latter’s opposition to the merger, stating that Sprint’s comments only serve as evidence of the company’s self-interest in this matter. Sprint, in response, points to the fact that AT&T is merely trying to distract the public and the media from the real issues that plague this merger by giving us all something else to argue about. As for the truth of the matter…well, that clearly has no place in this debate.

In the end, despite of Sprint’s janusian two-faced approach to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, I continue to wonder how approving the merger could ever benefit the American wireless market, as such a merger would produce a market literally controlled by AT&T and Verizon, and that is something that none of us want.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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