Leap Wireless Voices Concerns with AT&T Buyout of T-Mobile

Posted by at 3:58 pm on May 24, 2011

Cricket’s parent company Leap Wireless provided its own objection on Tuesday to AT&T’s proposed buyout of T-Mobile. The carrier suggested that letting the deal go through would lead to “alarming concentration” by putting too much power in the hands of two carriers, AT&T and Verizon. A merger would only hurt customers, it said.

The sentiments mirror those of Sprint, which at a Senate hearing earlier this month warned of a carrier duopoly and referred to AT&T and Verizon often as “the two Bells,” alluding back to the days of a single-company monopoly over landline phone service in the US. MetroPCS has been concerned as well and urged that, if a deal went ahead, the FCC should require AT&T divest some of its network to create a more even playing field for smaller providers.

AT&T has tried to play a patriotic angle on the merger by arguing that it would spur jobs and expand LTE-based 4G to as much as 97 percent of the US population, covering rural areas that might not necessarily get the access. Quality on AT&T would also allegedly get better since AT&T could use both its own spectrum and T-Mobile’s to fill out bandwidth needs.

Opposing carriers and advocacy groups have pointed out that some of the promises were either for goals it would likely already meet or contradicted historical tendencies. Most mergers usually result in job cuts and little to no immediate job expansion. Much of the US was already due to be covered by LTE and wouldn’t necessarily see much more gain from a merger. Concerns also exist from consumer interest group Public Knowledge that AT&T is sitting on spectrum it could use for its existing network and may just be a “serial acquirer” that makes up for shortcomings through takeovers.

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