2011
09.07

So what’s next? It’s as if the government’s antitrust lawsuit against AT&T and T-Mobile isn’t bad enough, now Sprint Nextel has to join in on the litigation bandwagon by filing its own lawsuit to stop the carrier merger.

Let’s face it, the government’s lawsuit is going to present some pretty big hurdles for AT&T, but potentially this could be disastrous for T-Mobile, which has since been in a precarious position since the marriage intentions were announced in March. As you will recall, we questioned whether the Obama Administration was prepared to essentially have two major carriers in the marketplace should this merger be approved. Apparently, the Dept. of Justice isn’t ready for that just yet with companies like Sprint whispering in its ears about which companies will be the market losers when all is said and done.

It’s no secret that Sprint has been the most vocal opponent of the deal saying the combination of T-Mobile USA and AT&T, if it would be allowed, “would have the ability to use its control over backhaul, roaming and spectrum, and its increased market position to exclude competitors, raise their costs, restrict their access to handsets, damage their businesses, and ultimately to lessen competition.”

Since being presenting with a $39 billion offer earlier this spring, the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier has pretty much largely ignored the U.S. M2M market, while its parent Deutsche Telekom has been determined to grow its international M2M market and profits. It was no secret that Deutsche Telekom has been looking to exit the U.S. market for quite some time in order to focus on its overseas opportunities. But this latest turn of events might put a huge wrinkle in the German company’s immediate plans.

I have to wonder though, what Sprint really hopes to gain by filing this lawsuit. I recognize that they can make different arguments that the government may not be able to make, but in the end this is going to be costly and time consuming. Is it really worth it to Sprint?

How much time will be spent focusing on this legal nightmare instead of keeping an eye on the key prize—gaining customer marketshare? Is Sprint really setting the stage to add yet another network into the already complicated mix of different technologies it already owns?
If my counting is right, this would be number four; at last count I think it was three, but who’s really counting? Mixing and matching is never a good thing unless you do it well and you have the money and firepower to make it work smoothly and easily for the customer.

In a carrier world where you are already trailing in third place with voice subscribers and in the data world you are trailing in fourth, (pending the T-Mobile acquisition, which would move you up to third) anything is possible.

Sprint’s an interesting kind of company. And in today’s data-driven world, anything is possible and clearly anything is probable.

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