Sprint Communications has filed a petition with West Virginia's Public Service Commission presenting its arguments as to why the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile will harm consumers and competition in the wireless market.
Sprint Communications has filed a
petition for intervention with the West Virginia Public Service Commission,
which would allow it to formally present its arguments against AT&T's
proposed $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile.
In a copy of the petition made available
to eWEEK, Sprint lays out the arguments that company insiders say will likely make
up the gist of the response to the U.S. Department of Justice's letter sent to
wireless carriers this week requesting details from wireless carriers,
including Sprint, on how the merger would affect their business.
While Sprint has acknowledged receiving
the request from the Justice Department, it has not yet formulated its
response. However the response to the Justice Department request is expected to
contain similar points to the request for intervention sent to the West
Virginia PSC. The Sprint filing is now available on the West Virginia Public Service Commission's Website.
West Virginia reserves the right to
review and approve mergers or acquisitions by any public utility that does
business within the state. In its petition, Sprint notes that West Virginia law
states that any "assignment, transfer, lease, sale or other disposition of the
whole or any part of the franchises, licenses ... or any other property of any
public utility or any merger or consolidation thereof ... shall be void to the
extent that the interests of the public in this state are adversely affected."
Sprint also notes that AT&T and
T-Mobile have petitioned the PSC to either approve the merger or exempt the
transaction from having to follow the law. Sprint also notes that AT&T is
claiming that T-Mobile has a limited presence in West Virginia, while at the
same time claiming that buying T-Mobile will allow it to provide statewide LTE
service. This seeming contradiction is enhanced by claims in the AT&T
filing that merging with T-Mobile would somehow improve its ability to provide
coverage in West Virginia and improve innovation.
The points Sprint raises to the West
Virginia regulatory authorities include the threat to Sprint from an effective
duopoly with the combined AT&T-T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless having nearly
80 percent of the market. This will limit consumer choice and innovation
while restricting competition to a degree that will negatively affect
service plans and pricing. Sprint's petition also points out AT&T's
consistently poor ranking in customer service versus T-Mobile's top rankings
and the reduced competition that will result.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's 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.