AT&T Wants Sprint Out Of T-Mobile Antitrust Case

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The proposed T-Mobile takeover would put around 80% of US wireless networks in the control of two mobile carriers, AT&T and Verizon. (Image: Stock.xchng)
The proposed T-Mobile takeover would put around 80% of US wireless networks in the control of two mobile carriers, AT&T and Verizon. (Image: Stock.xchng)

BUSINESS

  • AT&T asks federal judge to throw out Sprint antitrust lawsuit
  • Sprint says $39 billion T-Mobile takeover bad for competition
  • Merger would make AT&T by far the biggest US wireless network

AT&T will appeal to a federal court in Washington to dismiss an antitrust case brought forward by Sprint Nextel to block its acquisition of T-Mobile USA. Sprint opened a lawsuit saying the proposed merger between AT&T, the second largest wireless carrier in the US, and T-Mobile, the fourth largest, would limit competition within the industry.

Sprint also said the acquisition would damage its own business prospects which, on the back of 15 straight quarterly losses, it can ill afford.

The $39 billion deal would make Dallas-based AT&T the number-one wireless carrier in the United States, leapfrogging Verizon and leaving Sprint far behind in third.

AT&T plans to tell US District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle that there is no evidence to suggest rival operators would suffer from the merger, and that Sprint has no case under federal antitrust laws.

On October 12, Sprint appealed to Huvelle to grant it access to confidential documents gathered by the US Department of Justice about the acquisition, pointing out that AT&T was able to access Sprint’s documents in its antitrust case brought by the government. Sprint said it should be allowed the same access, since its bigger rival had information relevant to its case.

AT&T requested documents from Sprint concerning transactions that date back to January 2004, including dealings with Virgin Mobile, Nextel Communications and Clearwire. However, Sprint moved to block any further access to its data during the proceedings.

2.2 Million Pages

The Kansas-based Sprint bemoaned the “fundamental unfairness” of AT&T’s requests for information, telling the Washington court “AT&T already possesses 2.2 million pages of Sprint documents.” However the would-be owner of T-Mobile USA said Friday in court that Sprint was yet to give it access to the information it required.

“Sprint has not produced a single document,” AT&T told the judge. “Instead, Sprint contends it is not required to comply with the subpoena.” Sprint’s access to its rival’s data has been suspended while Huvelle considers the request to throw out its antitrust motion.

The proposed T-Mobile takeover would put around 80% of US wireless networks in the control of two mobile carriers, AT&T and Verizon.

On Tuesday AT&T announced it had sold over 1 million iPhone 4S handsets since its release on October 14 – the most successful retailer launch in Apple history.

Key Statistics – US Wireless Telecommunications Market (source: CTIA, International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry)

  • As of June 2011, there were over 328 million wireless subscriber connections in the US.
  • Some 30% of households in the US only use wireless telecommunications devices.
  • Nearly 197 billion text messages are sent every month in the US.
  • US wireless telecommunications subscribers use 2.25 trillion minutes of talk time per year.

By James Mulholland for
James Mulholland is a Paris-based internet and broadcast journalist specializing in sports, current affairs and technology news, while also freelancing as a photographer.

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