ATandT-T-Mobile Deny Sprint's Claims on Spectrum Holdings

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-06-11 Print this article Print

Still, the claims by Deutsche Telekom seem slightly skewed. Currently, it's not T-Mobile customers that complain about dropped calls, while AT&T's dropped call problem is legendary. Likewise, T-Mobile claims in its advertising that it has the largest 4G network in the United States, while the FCC motion claims that it doesn't. One has to wonder which side of its mouth DT is talking out of at any given time.

For the most part, the motion by DT and AT&T is a litany of counters to the various claims made by each of the opponents of the merger. Mostly, however, the dispute is about Sprint's opposition filing a few days earlier. The document takes issue with the duopoly claims by Sprint (and pretty much everyone else) and says that most users have access to four or five alternate carriers. This claim is probably true in some places, but my experience at least has shown that it's by no means true everywhere.

Potentially the most important part of the DT-T&T motion is the part about pricing. The companies say that the efficiencies of scale are such that pricing to customers should drop and that AT&T has no incentive to raise prices just so that its "archrival" Verizon Wireless can get more customers.

While the motion document itself in its entirety is a mind-numbing compilation of stilted prose to put it mildly, AT&T and DT have revealed some new parts of the plan. But they have also kept a large part hidden. One of the areas they won't discuss in public is what happens to T-Mobile's employees. Is it perhaps because AT&T is a union shop and T-Mobile isn't (thus explaining the support of the labor unions that stand to either gain lots of new union members or get the satisfaction of seeing lots of non-union employees fired).

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the motion is the direct attacks on Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and his earlier remarks about AT&T's spectrum availability. The motion basically accuses Hesse of not telling the truth. Then it then claims that Sprint, if you include Clearwire, really has the most spectrum.

It should be noted that there's nothing terribly surprising in the DT-AT&T motion except the detailed promise that T-Mobile customers will get to keep their existing pricing, even with upgraded handsets. This will certainly ease the concerns of the bulk of the existing T-Mobile customers who went with T-Mobile because they couldn't afford the other carriers. Otherwise, the contents of the document are predictable and as much as it may sound like mutual name calling such things are common in contested mergers.

Although one would have hoped that we've reached the point in the wireless industry where mergers don't devolve to the point that they sound like school-yard arguments.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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