The company joins the DOJ, Sprint and several watchdog firms in arguing the acquisition should not be approved.
Add privately held wireless
communications provider Cellular South to the list of organizations and
companies protesting the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by network
operator AT&T. Cellular South filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for
the District of Columbia, arguing the deal should not be allowed to go through.
The company joins the U.S. Department of Justice and several watchdog firms in
arguing the acquisition should not be approved.
"The proposed merger
will allow AT&T to increase this influence by eliminating T-Mobile as an
independent source of demand for wireless devices and an independent roaming
partner," Cellular South wrote in the complaint, which was seen by CNET.
"The resulting competitive harm will be felt by regional carriers, including
Cellular South, who will find it harder to secure both wireless devices at
competitive prices and times and nationwide roaming."
AT&T is currently in the
midst of a high-stakes legal battle with the U.S. government over its proposed
$39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA, Deutsche Telekom's U.S. arm. The DOJ
filed an antitrust lawsuit Aug. 31 seeking to prevent the proposed merger,
arguing it would reduce competition for mobile wireless communications services
across the United States, according to a Justice Department statement.
Cellular South, which currently
has 870,000 customers in Southern states, including Florida and Tennessee, is
not the first network operator to file a lawsuit against the deal. Earlier this
month, AT&T rival Sprint followed in the DOJ's footsteps by filing its own
takeover of T-Mobile is brazenly anti-competitive," the company argued in
its court filing. "In one fell swoop, AT&T's proposed purchase would
eliminate one of four national competitors and marginalize a second (Sprint),
pushing the market back toward a 1980s-style cell phone duopoly that would
force consumers to endure higher prices and be denied the fruits of vigorous
In addition, the Federal
Communications Commission in August dealt a blow to AT&T by tying together
the company's proposed acquisition with a $1.9 billion deal that would see
AT&T acquire some of Qualcomm's spectrum licenses. The agency's ongoing
review has confirmed that the proposed transactions raise a number of related
issues, including, but not limited to, questions regarding AT&T's
aggregation of spectrum throughout the nation, particularly in overlapping
Cellular South is continuing
a $90 million network expansion as it readies plans to introduce 4G LTE (Long-Term
Evolution) high-speed mobile broadband services in an effort to compete with
rivals like AT&T and Verizon. Kevin Hankins, chief operating officer for
Cellular South, said the company plans to continue its network-expansion
activities for the remainder of 2011, including the activation of 51 new cell
sites to expand coverage and network quality for wireless voice and data
The company also expects the
completion of an extensive network-wide core and switching systems infrastructure
capacity upgrade project with Alcatel-Lucent and the placement of 32,400 strand
miles of single-mode fiber optics to boost capacity, data transmission and
network redundancy through an agreement with Telepak Networks.
Hankins said Cellular South
network teams and technicians are spending thousands of hours updating the
network for improved voice and data services. "Wireless networks are all about
coverage, quality and speed, and the Cellular South network cannot be beat. Our
network expansion shows that we are taking the necessary steps to ready our
network for 4G LTE, and we are serious about continuing to be the best provider
of smartphone and mobile broadband services," he added.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.