Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has a bone to pick with AT&T's proposed T-Mobile acquisition.
"This is just a bridge too far," Hesse told eWEEK after a June 16 speech at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business as part of a CTO Forum. "A takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T would be absolutely disastrous for consumers and the U.S. economy. It would lead to less competition; as a result, the marketplace would have a lot more regulation than we have now."
AT&T has argued for months that absorbing T-Mobile's infrastructure would help extend 4G technology to more Americans, including those in rural areas. In April, CEO Randall Stephenson insisted to USA Today that the wireless industry would remain "fiercely competitive" even after his company finished the deal.
Hesse disagrees, countering that the acquisition would result in few tangible benefits for consumers. AT&T "got big guffaws from all of us in the industry when they said: 'Acquiring T-Mobile will help us build 4G in rural areas,'" he added. "What the heck does that have to do with it? They're already sitting on a ton of unused spectrum in rural areas, just like all of us are."
Hesse's forthrightness over what he sees as a competition-crushing acquisition is a bit of a sea change from March of this year, when he appeared relatively quiet about AT&T's freshly announced plans. During the executive roundtable that opened this year's CTIA 2011 conference in Orlando, Fla., he told an audience, "My opinion about the deal doesn't matter," while leaving the more critical comments to Sprint's public relations team.
As federal regulators continue to pore over the intricacies of AT&T's acquisition, though, Hesse has been steadily ratcheting up the intensity of his campaign. According to Bloomberg, Sprint's CEO even has a whiteboard-filled "war room" at the carrier's headquarters, a nerve center from which he apparently plans to do everything in his power to help scuttle AT&T's plans.
AT&T, of course, has no choice but to react.
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