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Urges U.S. government "to block this anti-competitive acquisition"

Opposition forces to AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA received a major supporter yesterday: Sprint Nextel. 

Sprint first commented on the blockbuster deal -- which would consolidate 80 percent of the country's wireless customers in just two companies -- in a moderate tone after the merger was initially announced. "The DOJ and the FCC must decide if this transaction is in the best interest of consumers and the US economy overall, and determine if innovation and robust competition would be impacted adversely and by this dramatic change in the structure of the industry," Sprint said in a statement a little more than a week ago. 

But the rhetoric became more heated yesterday, when Sprint put out a press release announcing its official opposition to the AT&T/T-Mobile deal.

"The transaction ... would reverse nearly three decades of actions by the U.S. government and the courts that modernized and opened U.S. communications markets to competition," the statement said. "The wireless industry has sparked unprecedented levels of competition, innovation, job creation and investment for the American economy, all of which could be undone by this transaction." 

Sprint went on to detail how the merger would result in a company "almost three times the size of Sprint," resulting in a de facto "duopoly" of the wireless industry by AT&T and Verizon. 

"Sprint urges the United States government to block this anti-competitive acquisition," Vonya McCann, senior vice president of government affairs for Sprint, said in the release. "On behalf of our customers, our industry and our country, Sprint will fight this attempt by AT&T to undo the progress of the past 25 years and create a new Ma Bell duopoly."

According to Reuters, a number of consumer and trade groups have also been critical of the deal. "This requires smaller competitors to negotiate agreements with these two telecom giants," Consumers Union told Reuters, while the public interest group Free Press called the deal a "train wreck."

The $39-billion AT&T/T-Mobile merger faces approval by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission and could take a year to pass. Analysts are predicting regulators to impose a number of conditions. Sprint was not happy about this either. "This transaction is fundamentally anti-competitive, and you can't fix that with merger conditions," Charles McKee, Sprint's vice president of government affairs, told Reuters. 

AT&T's argument is that there are five or more competitors in 18 of the top 20 wireless markets, meaning the merger would not be a threat to competition. But Sprint is lobbying regulators to review the merger on a national level, rather than the market-by-market approach that the DOJ typically takes when assessing competitiveness in mergers. 

The private equity firm Robert W. Baird & Co. raised expectations for AT&T stock to "outperform," saying it was confident the merger will be approved. Expectations for Leap Wireless and MetroPCS were also raised to "outperform" because the merger would put pressure on Verizon or Sprint to acquire smaller regional wireless carriers.

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Mighty strong laungage..
By GruntboyX on 3/29/2011 9:11:30 AM , Rating: 4
Sprint isn't pulling any punches. They are telling it straight and not trying to be coy with any of the rhetoric. I will have to say, with Sprint seeming to push customer service as it's competitive angle, It has me curious to do another look at them.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/29/11, Rating: 0
RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By TheRequiem on 3/29/2011 9:22:24 AM , Rating: 4
JD Power & Associates disagree's and so do I... they just got #1 for customer service buddy.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Chaser on 3/29/2011 9:45:59 AM , Rating: 3

When I call Sprint customer service guess what? No cryptic phone tree. A person answers right away, each time I have called.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By scrapsma54 on 3/29/2011 5:13:49 PM , Rating: 4
I had jailbroken my Evo, but I regreted it. I took it to sprint. They knew I had jailbroken it, they just used RUU and reset my android operating system.

Billing, I was able to hold off a week for non payment after calling customer support.

For $7 a month If my phone is ever busted, I receive a new one. If it is stolen, I pay $100, a brand new phone is back in my hands.

Sprint is the only company to not offer tiered data, and there is no bandwidth cap, just a data premium if you own a smartphone.

Since I stayed with sprint for 8 months of full payment I am a silver premium customer. This means I get bonuses everytime I upgrade or buy accessories.

I got a free $20 Hdmi cable for my phone because I wanted to buy a dock for my phone.

The list goes on. They are the only company willing to work with you while offering the cheapest of all services.

I have experience with all of the major players except verizon, but I do not have that kind of money to bother.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By theapparition on 3/30/2011 7:52:40 AM , Rating: 2
Not dumping on Sprint, because although they used to have severe network issues and poor customer service, I've heard that they've really made strides in both areas.

But to counter a few points below.

I had jailbroken my Evo, but I regreted it. I took it to sprint. They knew I had jailbroken it, they just used RUU and reset my android operating system.

It's actually called "rooting" but your experience is hit-or-miss. Depends on the tech you get and what day they've had. Sprint's official policy is not to service modified devices.
I've had similar service with a Verizon tech, who looked the other way that the device was rooted.

For $7 a month If my phone is ever busted, I receive a new one. If it is stolen, I pay $100, a brand new phone is back in my hands.

Verizon has similar insurance coverage. Sprint is doing nothing novel here, although the cost to replace the phone on Verizon is only $80.

Sprint is the only company to not offer tiered data, and there is no bandwidth cap, just a data premium if you own a smartphone.

As of right now, Verizon still offers unlimited data on both 3G and 4G, so Sprint is definately not the "only one".

Sprint is by far the cheapest, and if I ever had to switch carriers from Verizon it would be with Sprint. Just wanted to counter a few of your misconceptions.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By nafhan on 3/29/11, Rating: -1
RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Souka on 3/29/2011 11:22:08 AM , Rating: 3
Sprint must fail on the small business side.

I used to handle all our mobile phones (about 800 across the US)at a previous company.

We had about 55% T-mobile, 20% Verizon, 20% ATT, 15% Sprint.

All the carriers I could typically reach a live person within a minute of placing the call, but...

Sprint constantly messed up phone plan changes, phone# ports, ownership changes, etc. Hell, I even recall them ocassionaly disabling an account for no reason, and when I called they just attributed it to a software glitch.
Same goes for the BIS/BES (Blackberry services)... they'd sometimes drop from the plan and I had to call to get them put back on! WTH!?

For changes, I had it setup so only account admins (just 3 people) could make service plan changes... despite this, users would still sometimes make changes (they just called a few times until a service rep would override the policy).

I NEVER had problems like this with the other three, yet Sprint was only a small percentage of my accounts.

I hate neighbors tolerate them...

This is MY experience, my opinion. I'm not saying you're wrong if you like Sprint... If the carrier works for you, use them!

My $.02

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By TheRequiem on 3/29/2011 1:22:27 PM , Rating: 1
Blasphemy! I deal with the company on a daily basis and Verizon and AT&T have WAY more issues then Sprint does on a daily basis, granted they have more cusotmers, but not that much more. Either way, your comment is extremely biased and inaccurate and they have turned the company around significantly in the past year.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Taft12 on 3/29/2011 1:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
Your level of fanboyism is rivalling an Apple fan.

What bias and inaccuracy? He described problems he had with Sprint. He even said it was his opinion and if Sprint works for you, use them.

You're outing yourself as a Sprint employee or paid shill and making a fool of yourself.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Souka on 3/29/2011 3:25:16 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I forgot to mention when I dealt with them... 2008-2010 (late)...almost 3 years...and about 10-20 calls a week between the carriers.

When dealing with their "managers" to address issues, I typicall get the "new system in place" or "improving customer support underway"

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By ahodge on 3/29/2011 3:54:49 PM , Rating: 1 them laugh, watch them drool
watch them fall into the pool, that's diving
at the special olympics...

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By mcnabney on 3/29/2011 12:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
No they didn't. They pulled into a strong second with Verizon and a statistical tie in several markets.

However, those surveys included a number of questions relating to VALUE. Sprint is relatively inexpensive, so their customer care may have improved a bit, but their score is buoyed by value-oriented customers favoring Sprint's prices.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By YashBudini on 3/29/2011 8:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
JD Power & Associates disagree's and so do I... they just got #1 for customer service buddy.

You can be the best at something and still not be any good at it. It's a relative mesurement.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Arsynic on 3/29/2011 9:57:30 AM , Rating: 2
...and the data service is worse.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Dr of crap on 3/29/2011 10:20:41 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know why everyone is so locked onto customer service. Is that how you base the cell companies? I have Sprint, and I have called customer serivce, but I do not guage my cell service on how my customer service calls are handled.

And by the way, the customer service has been just fine.
And my family share plan is also just fine, and compared to others I have read about on here, is far above the others - unlimited text & web serfing - no overage charges, no restricting, and I get service all over. I won't be looking to go to AT&T at anytime!

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Taft12 on 3/29/2011 1:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
Spoken like someone who hasn't been the victim of poor customer service. You even said yourself you've had "no overage charges, no restrictions". That in itself has nothing to do with customer service -- those things happen all the time to customers of all wireless carriers.

When your billing is screwed up and won't get fixed or you get treated like a liar, that's when you find out how important customer service is. You just haven't yet had the opportunity to find out.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By torpor on 3/29/2011 2:28:56 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, Sprint's everything plan (which I have) is unlimited everything, no caps/throttles/borders/whatever.

Wife and I share the plan. We both have Androids and suck down data like a whirlpool. No overage charges, no nastygrams, no throttles, no nothing.

It's pretty hard to f-up a bill when it's an honest unlimited. Maybe you should try it out, see what we mean.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Dr of crap on 3/29/2011 3:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
Acctually i have had billing issues and that's why I caontacted tehm, and they have been nothing but helpful, and I was treated kindly.

So don't tell me I don't know OF what I speak!

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By tng on 3/29/2011 4:33:51 PM , Rating: 4
Doesn't matter what you say, there is someone out there that has had issues with your favorite company.

One of my favorite sites used to be

This site was started by a disgruntled Comcast customer, but evolved to include many other companies. Almost all the stories on there are nightmare sagas of customer service gone very wrong.

Point is, as many people as you find that have had good experiences with Sprint, you will find just as many who have had bad ones.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By Dr of crap on 3/30/2011 11:18:37 AM , Rating: 2
And since the squeaky wheel gets the greese, we should call the whole of the Sprint customer service bad then, right?
How many GOOD experinces are there to offset, but not reported anywhere?

And why rate the company bad because of this?
Is the coverage bad ?
Are calls being dropped a lot ?
Are you mad about your cell phone ?
All these would be worse than bad customer service.

Hell all I here is about how bad AT&T drops calls. Just on that alone I'd not want AT&T for my cell service, never mind the customer service aspect.

I'm just saying ONLY the bad things get spread all over the net, and you DO NOT hear of the good. I've had the good and I'm letting you know about it.

It's the same with any company, only the BAD gets spread around, and maybe there are much more GOOD experiences, but you do not hear about them!

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By tng on 3/30/2011 2:23:07 PM , Rating: 2
You are right you know, there is no reporting service for good experiences.

We as human animals seem to be wired to remember the worst more so than any other experience and yes the squeaky wheel does get the attention.

RE: Mighty strong laungage..
By bigboxes on 3/29/2011 10:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
And you know this how? I've noticed a remarkable improvement over the last few years. They made it a priority and they have delivered. Now, if they'd only release a wider variety of handsets...

By Dr of crap on 3/29/2011 8:44:49 AM , Rating: 2
They would look at regional carrier service and not the national sence?
I don't know of any other wireless providers, other than Sprint, At&t, T-mobile, and Verizon. So I'd say these "regional" carriers are way to small to be considered.

Yet again how stupid our govt can be!

RE: what?
By retrospooty on 3/29/2011 8:48:33 AM , Rating: 3
"Yet again how stupid our govt can be!"

You must not have watched any news for the past 30 years ;)

RE: what?
By therealnickdanger on 3/29/2011 10:08:37 AM , Rating: 2
How about news from 3 weeks ago?

Sprint in Talks to Aquire T-Mobile USA

Sounds to me like Sprint is just throwing a tantrum because they didn't get the deal.

RE: what?
By amanojaku on 3/29/2011 10:30:14 AM , Rating: 5
I think retrospooty was pointing out how the government does so many stupid things that nothing should be a surprise any more.

Anyway, Sprint buying T-Mobile would have been more acceptable since the combined market share would have been less than AT&T or Verizon.

In millions of customers:

T-Mobile USA - 33.73
Sprint Nextel - 49.9
Sprint + T-Mobile - 83.63
Verizon Wireless - 94.1
AT&T - 95.5
AT&T + T-Mobile - 129.23

Actually, subtract one from AT&T-Mobile and add one to Sprint Nextel. That's me.

RE: what?
By SirKronan on 3/29/2011 10:59:36 AM , Rating: 3
I ran out of votes before I got to your post, but QFT!!!!! You are right on the money.

Not only the numbers matter, either, but also the fact that the AT&T and T-Mobile merger would make AT&T the ONLY GSM provider in this country, which will virtually eliminate all GSM competition minus a few select Verizon world-compatible handsets.

In addition, just as the article says, this will simply make a more modern day version of the company the government had to break apart years ago. I know that all companies are just in it for the money, but AT&T is one of the most "evil" companies by nature that I have ever dealt with, and that has been for years (and thankfully not as a customer, just on the retail front).

RE: what?
By Aikouka on 3/29/2011 12:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
But what would have happened if Sprint bought T-Mobile? Would they have kept T-Mobile as GSM when Sprint uses CDMA? If not, then all T-Mobile customers would have been converted to Sprint customers and put on a CDMA network. With that, you'd still end up with only one GSM provider (AT&T).

RE: what?
By WalksTheWalk on 3/29/2011 3:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
This falls along the same lines with Oracle acquiring Sun as a generally bad idea. We need more competition not less. We'll end up with three carriers which will have a loose fix on prices.

Recent examples are: ISPs, RAM, LCD displays, etc.

RE: what?
By retrospooty on 3/29/2011 4:00:19 PM , Rating: 3
"I think retrospooty was pointing out how the government does so many stupid things that nothing should be a surprise any more."

Exactly... Its not the Dems or the Reps, or independents for that matter. Its freegin all of them.

RE: what?
By DanNeely on 3/29/2011 9:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
They are. None have more than 2% of the US marketshare, and excepting the ones that are entirely piggybacked on a national carrier almost none of them have the spectrum/capital to expand beyond 2g voice into 3/4g data, which means it's only a matter of time before they get gobbled up by the big ones.

RE: what?
By The Raven on 3/29/2011 9:35:47 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah this is ridiculous. Did we just forget about the "too big to fail companies" already?

I guess they are done shuffling cards in DC. Now we just wait for them to finish setting up another house of cards and then wait for the whole thing to fall down.

I won't. I've had it. I hope you guys have too.

RE: what?
By DanNeely on 3/29/2011 4:50:54 PM , Rating: 3
At this point I think we should just let ATTMobile, VZW, Sprint, and all the small fry merge for a few years to: Sort out a common network platform nationwide (with VZW going LTE I assume it would be GSM for 2/3g as well to keep everything simple) and kill all the legacy systems. To give all the customers who refuse to upgrade their current phones that will stop working an equivalent platform level freebate replacement. Follow up on their promise to spread "5g" networks to 99% of the US population that they made to buy the FCC off.

Then finally whack Ma Bell 2.0 with the This Time We Really Mean It antitrust stick into a single dumb tower company that supports all the national wireless companies, and the customer facing half dozen or so similar sized competitors that are legally forbidden from attempting to merge or building redundant networks.

</sarcastic fantasy>

Lets talk reality people
By cknobman on 3/29/2011 10:10:16 AM , Rating: 4
Whichever "lobbyist" "donates" the most money to members of congress will get the most "support".

It is clear AT$T will get this merger and be fully supported by our "government".

LOL American politics are a big sham of a crooked business.

RE: Lets talk reality people
By Dr of crap on 3/29/2011 10:26:39 AM , Rating: 2
You got that right.
Money buys ANYTHING.
And it does no good to have our govt run by that money!

RE: Lets talk reality people
By mcnabney on 3/29/2011 2:11:17 PM , Rating: 3
And things only get better with SCOTUS allowing unlimited, anonymous corporate donations to our elected officials.

RE: Lets talk reality people
By Dr of crap on 3/29/2011 3:08:25 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Lets talk reality people
By YashBudini on 3/29/2011 8:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
Money buys ANYTHING.

Just ask Charlie Sheen.

RE: Lets talk reality people
By YashBudini on 3/29/2011 8:54:08 PM , Rating: 2

Apparently business is too big to fail but not to big to bust up or prevent. And the corporatocracy continues.

How long before it's just AT&T again?

By Targon on 3/29/2011 10:10:02 AM , Rating: 2
Sprint has been bleeding money and customers for a long time now, and can't handle the idea that without T-mobile, they WILL be seen as the worst of the national cellular service providers when it comes to coverage area. So, if Sprint can't buy T-mobile due to not having enough money, then no one else should either, right?

When a company faces going out of business, the best hope is a merger/buyout, not just for the owners, but also for the customers. T-mobile customers may not be happy with the idea of AT&T buying the company, but the danger would be that the parent company just liquidates the assets and the business goes away. Look at the economy for the past two years, and look at how many businesses have closed their doors. T-mobile and Sprint are looking at that as a big possibility.

So, what does Sprint really offer that is better than the competition, other than good customer service and lower bills? Coverage area around the country? No. Faster data transfer speeds? Nope, not there either. How about selection of phones? Nope. Sprint itself is in a position where it could potentially be bought if it can't get the balance sheet looking better. If AT&T increases service quality, that isn't good for Sprint, but is that worse for customers or the industry?

By dryloch on 3/29/2011 6:40:25 PM , Rating: 2
That's a good one. I am in Atlanta in a section where there are tons of office buildings and the coverage on ATT is terrible. We could not make calls from our corporate office. We went to Sprint and now have full bars in the office. Sprint also benefits from being able to roam on Verizon Towers.

By goku on 3/30/2011 12:04:03 AM , Rating: 1
Doubtful. I mean yes you probably have zero bars, but you're also probably trying to use the 3G network, try the edge/gprs network and you'll probably have full bars in that area with AT&T. Reason for this is too many users on 3G, so while theoretically there is coverage there, it's being used up by all the customers and so there is nothing left. Reason you have good signal with sprint is because they have far fewer customers than AT&T and so there is more signal to go around. People ask why we didn't have 3G when Japan had it over 6 years ago, this is the reason why...demand for the service outstrips supply.

I only write this post because to me, you make it seem like ATT doesn't have coverage in that area at all, at any time of day. Bet you'd have 3G coverage at 2-4am in that area. Perhaps too many assholes with an iPhone.

By InfinityzeN on 3/30/2011 11:08:06 AM , Rating: 2
Far fewer? What multiple are you working with. Are we talking 1000 Sprint and 1910 AT&T? That is the rough difference between them. The problem isn't AT&T having more customers, but that they massively under invested in upgrading their network.

By wolrah on 3/30/2011 5:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
Sprint and Verizon have reciprocal roaming agreements, so their coverage as seen by a user is identical. The only difference is you tend to lose 3G data and drop back to 1xRTT speeds when roaming.

Not sure...
By mostyle on 3/29/2011 9:12:59 AM , Rating: 2 this can be good for business (unless you're AT$T) in the competitive since.. AT$T prices and packaging are already overpriced compared to other carriers from what I've seen.. One comparison example being AT$T's unlimited plan that doesn't include texting.. Sure you can get unlimited texts but that's extra. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Sprint's Unlimited plan include texts as well?

Just checked my account and unlimited texts on any plan with my account settings is $20.

I'd switch in a heart beat were the other carriers a viable option but they are not due to signal where I live..


RE: Not sure...
By Targon on 3/29/2011 5:16:56 PM , Rating: 2
Sprint has to have lower prices to compensate for not having coverage in as many areas as AT&T or Verizon. Now, this merger may sound like a bad thing, but if AT&T keeps all the T-mobile towers instead of just consolidating, it will boost service quality for AT&T customers as well as T-mobile customers.

There is a reason many people have not gone with T-mobile or even Sprint, and that is a lack of service in many places across the country. There will always be people who live close to towers and who never travel, so they don't care about getting service while traveling, but those people are in the minority.

RE: Not sure...
By InfinityzeN on 3/30/2011 3:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
There are many places in the country that lack good AT&T or Verizon coverage. I'm in the Army and travel all over the country, mostly to the real crappy back roads areas (that is where the Army likes to put their bases).

In the 10 years I have had Sprint, I have yet to be in an area where I didn't have signal while other carriers did. I have only had two dropped calls, both while driving through the desert in east Texas. Although I have had billing issues or other problems at times, customer service has always politely cleared it up.

Sprint has long ago burned their bridges
By smarish on 3/29/2011 8:59:48 AM , Rating: 3
They would have a better shot at increasing customer base if they had not abused them years ago. When it comes to cellular technology, we have long memories. And if Sprint had their way, they would have created a monoply on their own anyway.

By Jabroney701020 on 3/29/2011 8:34:29 PM , Rating: 2
When it comes to cellular technology, we have long memories.

I can't imagine that teeny-boppers and college frat kids have really long memories about these things. Are they part of your demographic?

Everything is a duopoly, Sprint!
By quiksilvr on 3/29/11, Rating: 0
By TheRequiem on 3/29/2011 9:24:49 AM , Rating: 2
You forgot McDonalds and Burger King! lol

By BSMonitor on 3/29/2011 9:25:24 AM , Rating: 2
Your examples are a bit skewed.

Apple and Microsoft only compete in a couple small areas of Microsoft's business. Apple simply has a monopoly on hand-help mobile devices. Microsoft on PC software.

Honda is no where near the level of GM. And even Ford is ahead of them.

Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer, IBM

By inperfectdarkness on 3/30/2011 2:31:15 PM , Rating: 2
Now can we please get some more competition in broadband ISP's?

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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