AT&T takes issue with SoftBank’s Sprint buyout

October 18, 2012
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SoftBank's intention of purchasing a 70% stake in Sprint is one of the month's bigger news stories (at least so far), so it's no wonder that today we're seeing other carriers coming out and stating some issues they have with the proposed acquisition. One of these carriers is AT&T, which is warning FCC regulators today to closely examine this buyout and its potential consequences. Specifically, AT&T seems concerned over the fact that SoftBank acquiring Sprint means that SoftBank will also take control of Clearwire, giving it a large amount of wireless spectrum.

AT&T vice president Brad Burns voiced the company's concerns in a rather short and succinct statement. At the same time, AT&T manages to voice its concerns without making any whiny demands, presumably because the carrier could use this buyout to its advantage should it be approved by the FCC. Have a look at it below:

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.

Of course, AT&T hasn't forgotten the fact that FCC didn't approve the company's proposed buyout of T-Mobile, so it's easy to see why AT&T feels the need to make this statement. It isn't as if companies making these kinds of warning statements when a major acquisition is in the pipeline is anything new, either - as AT&T said, this acquisition would give SoftBank a significant amount of US spectrum, which would make it that much harder for the carrier to get ahead in the highly competitive mobile market.

Whether or not the FCC will pay attention to AT&T's precautionary statement is another thing entirely, though. You can bet that the FCC will already be closely examining the sale, however, just as we can be sure that other mobile companies will soon be coming out of the woodwork to voice their own displeasure with the Sprint buyout. Stay tuned, because things will definitely be getting much more interesting soon


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  • Mc-Taz

    It’s funny that Sprint having control of Clearwire isn’t a problem, but Softbank having both Sprint and Clearwire is apparently an issue. Wasn’t AT&T just granted approval for buying more spectrum itself? I guess it’s really Softbank which AT&T fears, and not the US-based companies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/novembergold Douglas Anderson

    This is a hoot. Sprint already had access to the Clearwire Spectrum and Sprint gets no new spectrum out of this deal. This gives Sprint/Softbank no advantage. This simply gives Sprint the investment it needs to get moving again.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Pretty amussing this is can’t blame At&t for not liking this deal since they was thwarted with it’s tmobile aquistion earlier this year. I”m pretty sure the FCC is looking closely into this matter as well as the T-mobile/Metropcs situation. It will be what it will be one way or another…

  • MA

    There is a HUGE difference to the AT&T and T-Mobile merger and to what is happening with SoftBank and Sprint. AT&T was Buying out a competitor and eliminating a major player on the market. But in this case Softbank is buying Sprint; but Sprint is not going away! A major US mobile carrier is not being eliminated, there aren’t fewer players in the US as there was before, market wise, not much has changed.

    What has changed is that Softbank feels comfortable to take on all of Sprint’s assets and its immense debt that has been plaguing it since the Sprint+Nextel merger. Sprint is going to be stabilized as a business and now has more money behind it to fund network upgrades and facilitate the use of the Clearwire spectrum it now has control over.

  • Casey Smith

    “as AT&T said, this acquisition would give SoftBank a significant amount of US spectrum, which would make it that much harder for the carrier to get ahead in the highly competitive mobile market.”

    WHAT?? Make it that much harder for the carrier (AT&T) to get ‘ahead’…. are frick’n serious AT&T? This is beyond conceivable, even to the consumer. We ALL know that AT&T/Verizon lead the pack in the US. AT&T’s statement is quite comical in its stature.

    Sounds like AT&T and Apple have something in common. They want to diminish competition, and I the consumer want options available. AT&T taking T-Mo was taking away part of the competition. Same as Apple trying to get Samsung products out of the US/world markets. I want options. I don’t want to be lead to a single product or choice like sheep.