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AT&T To Grill Sprint Over SoftBank-Clearwire Deal, Citing Nationalism

October 18, 2012 - News

**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q3 2012 or here for the biggest M&A during that time in the service-provider and BSS/OSS spaces.**

Sprint said Thursday that it's moving forward with much-anticipated plant to buy the half of Clearwire it doesn't already own — and AT&T isn't happy about it.

AT&T – America's second-largest wireless carrier – said the new arrangement would allow a foreign company to gain significant control over the nation's airwaves.

Japanese wireless service provider SoftBank said earlier this week that it plans to buy 70 percent of Sprint. Clearwire, the wireless network operator of which Sprint already owns 48 percent, has valuable spectrum licenses. The cash infusion from SoftBank would give Sprint the money it needs to gobble up the rest of Clearwire.

AT&T VP Brad Burns said SoftBank's acquisition of Sprint will give the Japanese company more control over the U.S. wireless spectrum that any other company, according to The Hill.

"We expect that fact and others will be fully explored in the regulatory review process," Burns added in a statement. "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."

Meanwhile, AT&T wants approval of its own deals with companies like NextWave, Comcast and Horizon.

In the past, Sprint openly opposed AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile, and it even sued to stop the deal. The Federal Communications Commission also opposed the merger last year, which led to the demise of the 39 billion proposal.

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