Could the Merger Mean Back-Pedalling?
On May 18, Bob Quinn, AT&T senior vice president for Federal Regulatory posted a blog entry calling Sprint's claims of an unfair advantage and unfair pricing a "myth". Quinn then brought up the relationship between Sprint and Clearwire, and pointed out that Clearwire uses microwave backhaul. This, Quinn claimed, proved that Sprint was obviously using landline backhaul because it wanted to, not because it was forced to. Without going into the many ways that Quinn's argument was totally specious, the fact is that the vast majority of Sprint's cell sites predate Clearwire, don't have access to the microwave backhaul and may not be in locations where the microwave backhaul is even possible. It was so clearly an effort to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about the merger that it should have carried a warning label. Perhaps, the fact that much of Quinn's assertions are pure fiction gets around that.
Still, Sprint came out with a statement of its own. "The only companies who share AT&T's fairy tale view of the special access market are the landline phone companies that control approximately 85 percent of the special access market and face no meaningful competition to meet the needs of wireless carriers or others who depend upon high-speed broadband connections," wrote Sprint PR Manager John Taylor in a prepared statement. "When you leverage market power to earn rates of return in excess of 100 percent, it's easy to understand why you support the status quo."