Tea Party a natural opponent to AT&T deal, Sprint says

Every member of Congress will have reasons to oppose the deal as they consider job losses in their districts and the potential for wireless prices to rise due to industry consolidation, said Sprint spokesman John Taylor.

"There are a lot of synergies that AT&T points to," Barloon said. "That means job cuts."

AT&T, however, says the wireless industry is robustly competitive and will remain so if the deal is approved. The proposal, which includes a pledge to invest billions in infrastructure, will create jobs, improve service and spread broadband, AT&T execs say. 

"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," said AT&T's top policy executive Jim Cicconi in a statement. 

AT&T argues that the wireless market is "intensely competitive," citing 5 or more competitors in 18 of 20 top markets, Sprint and others see a very different picture. 

Sprint executive Trey Hanbury says regulators will consider the national market—not just small geographic areas. And even on the local level, the merger should fail the test, he said. The FCC, for its part, ruled that the wireless industry isn't competitive enough last year. 

"When you look at it nationwide, it's Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon. I hate to say it, but we'd be a distant third. You'd see a duopoly unlike anything we've seen in [recent years]," he said. 

Even on the local level, the facts argue against the merger, the Sprint executives said. 

Small carriers are unable to offer all the benefits of the national carriers when it comes to handsets, roaming, and pricing, Hanbury said. 

"I don't think you think of a carrier like Big Sky or Bluegrass Cellular as really competing with nationwide carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint," he said. 

Sprint is planning to aggressively contest the deal, which will be subject to months of regulatory review at the FCC, the Congress, and the Justice Department.

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