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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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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.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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