By Sara Jerome - 03/28/11 06:44 PM EDT
"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," she said.
AT&T put out a statement disputing that the deal will hurt competition: "The U.S. wireless market is intensely competitive with five or more competitors in 18 of the top 20 markets. The AT&T/T-Mobile merger will improve quality for consumers, provide a near-term solution to spectrum exhaust, and expand the availability of LTE to 95% of Americans, spurring innovation and economic growth.”
Sprint, the third largest carrier, could be left trailing a distant third behind Verizon and AT&T if federal regulators approve the deal. The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must approve the deal.
AT&T has previously said the facts will support that the wireless market will remain competitive after the merger, and that it is prepared to address Sprint's concerns with federal regulators.
AT&T top Washington executive Jim Cicconi has cast Sprint's grievances as a hallow bid to see a competitor regulated.
He said last week that "we feel policymakers will readily understand that any company with whom AT&T competes may not be especially positive about anything which makes AT&T a better competitor in the wireless market."
Sprint chief executive Dan Hesse expressed concerns about the AT&T deal last week, saying, “I do have concerns that it would stifle innovation and too much power would be in the hands of two.”
Consumer groups have also blasted the merger, while labor unions that could gain more members support it.
UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: AT&T top Washington executive Jim Cicconi added this statement later in the day, "As we said last week, we strongly believe that this transaction is good for AT&T customers and T-Mobile customers, and is very much in the public interest given the benefits it will bring to 95% of all Americans. With regard to Sprint’s recent statements about our transaction, we have always found that the most constructive course is to focus on our own strategies for serving our customers and building our business rather than becoming distracted by challenging the business strategies of others.”