May 31st, 2011

Sprint’s been joining committees and speaking their mind on a merger that is sure to shake up the United States wireless industry, but they’d never officially appealed to the FCC. Until today, that is. They’ve requested that the merger be blocked under the usual grounds of stifled competition, innovation and protection of consumerism. Here is the appeal in bulletpoint form:

  • The proposed T-Mobile takeover would harm the broadband economy, competition and consumers. It 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.
  • The proposed T-Mobile takeover would harm innovation and investment. 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.
  • The proposed T-Mobile takeover has no public interest benefit. The transaction would do nothing to relieve AT&T’s purported spectrum congestion. AT&T is already the largest holder of licensed spectrum and unused spectrum and has simply failed to upgrade or invest sufficiently in its network. Moreover, AT&T does not need T-Mobile to expand its LTE network to reach 97 percent of all Americans, because its current spectrum holdings and network already reach approximately 97 percent of the population.

There’s not much more to be said, really. And Sprint does make very valid points that I’m sure a vast majority of consumers and other carriers agree with. Will it be enough to persuade the FCC to block the acquisition from going through? AT&T and Deutsche Telekom have already faced stiff resistance from several governing bodies of our nations, but such is always the case in mergers. (And some pretty big ones have gone off without a hitch in the past, even when a majority of folks wanted otherwise.) [Sprint]


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