Sprint (Overland Park, Kan.) announced Tuesday it has formally requested the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block AT&T's (Dallas, Texas) proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA, noting the Commission’s responsibility to protect consumers and the industry against anti-competitive market control. Sprint made the request in a “Petition to Deny” filed at the FCC this afternoon.
In its filing, Sprint concluded the proposed acquisition cannot be remedied through divestitures or conditions, and urged the FCC to block the proposed transaction on the following grounds:
According to Sprint, the merger would reverse two decades of successful U.S. government wireless competition policy and result in higher prices for consumers in the absence of marketplace choices.
Sprint further argued that approval of this transaction would uniquely position the Twin Bell duopolists of AT&T and Verizon as the gatekeepers of the digital ecosystem, stifling innovation and choice in new devices and applications, and the capital markets that fund them.
In an exclusive statement AT&T responded, "Strong support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger has been voiced by dozens of community, civic and minority organizations, 11 governors, multiple labor unions and several members of Congress. We anticipate additional support for the transaction from more voices who recognize the tremendous benefits for the economy, innovation and public policy associated with bringing high-speed wireless broadband deployment to more than 97% of the U.S. population - nearly 55 million more Americans than our pre-merger plans - and improving call quality and network performance for consumers."
“This proposed takeover puts our mobile broadband future at a crossroads," said Vonya B. McCann, senior vice president of Government Affairs for Sprint. “We can choose the open, competitive road best traveled, and protect American consumers, innovation and our economy, or we can choose the dead end that merely protects only AT&T and leads the rest of us back down the dirt road to Ma Bell.”
In its filing, Sprint states the following: The proposed transaction must be blocked. The transaction would harm consumers, competition and the American economy as the Twin Bells would not be deterred from increasing prices and reducing consumer choice in wireless devices, applications and services where they control approximately 80 percent of the wireless industry revenue. The proposed transaction would produce no tangible public interest benefits and would impose serious anti-competitive harms that cannot be remedied through divestitures or conditions. The Commission should reject the acquisition outright.
In regards to Sprint’s formal request, James Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president-external and legislative affairs said, “Sprint is confusing the public interest with their interest. The two are not the same.”
The FCC had no comment on Sprint’s request.