AT&T has started to publicly complain about Sprint's acquisition by SoftBank
and Sprint's now controlling stake
in Clearwire -- which will likely end in an acquisition. The deal of course gives AT&T a more viable competitor with the funds to deploy a larger LTE network, something AT&T certainly won't like.
In a press statement issued yesterday
, AT&T Vice President Brad Burns complained that SoftBank's acquisition of Clearwire would put too much spectrum in the hands of a foreign-owned company, apparently hoping a little xenophobia would bring added regulatory scrutiny to the deal:
"Softbank's acquisition of Sprint and the control it gains over Clearwire will give one of Japan's largest wireless companies control of significantly more U.S. wireless spectrum than any other company. We expect that fact and others will be fully explored in the regulatory review process. This is one more example of a very dynamic and competitive U.S. wireless marketplace, which is an important fact for U.S. regulators to recognize."
AT&T hates competition almost as much as cats hate baths -- and would certainly love to see regulators scrap the SoftBank deal after Sprint played a starring role in getting AT&T's planned T-Mobile acquisition crushed by regulators. AT&T may have had their eye on Clearwire's spectrum, hoping to snap it up after the company ran out of cash. AT&T certainly doesn't have much to complain about on the spectrum front. In addition to their robust existing stable of spectrum (including as yet un-refarmed 2G spectrum) -- they've been on a spectrum acquisition spree which includes using WCS spectrum to offer LTE services
all spectrum for themselves, and loathing the idea of added competition, AT&T will assign countless lobbyists tasked with stopping the Sprint deal, and the first step appears to scare monger about foreign ownership. Odd AT&T never showed concern previously about UK operator Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless? Or their own relationship with NTT DoCoMo (who helped deploy 3G in Hawaii)? Once they get their talking points, you can expect AT&T's paid friends in Congress to begin attacking the SoftBank deal using xenophobia as a central thesis.