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.