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Surprise: Sprint opposes AT&T buying T-Mobile

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In an announcement that surprises no one, mobile operator Sprint has publicly announced it is opposed to AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA. Sprint says it stands ready to compete with other mobile operators in a fair marketplace, but that permitting AT&T to acquire T-Mobile would “reverse nearly three decades” of regulatory and government action to open the U.S. communications market, and essentially re-invent the monopoly that was Ma Bell.

“Sprint urges the United States government to block this anti-competitive acquisition,” said Sprint’s senior VP for government affairs Vonya McCann, in a statement. “This transaction will harm consumers and harm competition at a time when this country can least afford it.”

AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile—if approved—would merge the current number-two and number-four U.S. mobile carriers, creating the largest mobile operator in the U.S., eclipsing the current king of the heap, Verizon Wireless. The resulting company would be about three times the size of Sprint, and Sprint argues that would effectively convert the U.S. mobile communications market from a market with four major players to a market with two major players—AT&T and Verizon Wireless. According to Sprint, the size of the companies would offer them “unprecedented control” over the U.S. wireless post-paid market, and their size would enable them to exert strong controls over prices paid for key factors in the business, including network equipment and backhaul access.

“On behalf of our customers, our industry and our country” McCann wrote, “Sprint will fight this attempt by AT&T to undo the progress of the past 25 years and create a new Ma Bell duopoly.”

AT&T announced its intention to acquire T-Mobile earlier this month in a deal valued at $39 billion. The companies expect the acquisition will take a year to be approved.

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