Sprint slates AT&T acquisition plans as T-Mo goes on down-low

Sprint has demanded US regulators look closely at the proposed AT&T takeover of T-Mobile USA, warning that the deal would "alter dramatically the structure of the communications industry" and lead to a negative impact on "innovation and robust competition." If approved, Sprint says, the combined carrier would be three times its own size, and have hitherto unseen control over backhaul and other access systems. Meanwhile, T-Mobile has pulled out from an upcoming CTIA 2011 panel, pushing out a FAQ in which it attempts to placate customers confused by the acquisition news.

More details after the cut

"The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA, if approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), would alter dramatically the structure of the communications industry. AT&T and Verizon are already by far the largest wireless providers. A combined AT&T and T-Mobile would be almost three times the size of Sprint, the third largest wireless competitor.

If approved, the merger would result in a wireless industry dominated overwhelmingly by two vertically-integrated companies that control almost 80% of the US wireless post-paid market, as well as the availability and price of key inputs such as backhaul and access needed by other wireless companies to compete. The DOJ and the FCC must decide if this transaction is in the best interest of consumers and the US economy overall, and determine if innovation and robust competition would be impacted adversely and by this dramatic change in the structure of the industry." Sprint statement

"T-Mobile will not be joining [the CTIA panel] due to extenuating work demands" a show representative confirmed, though Verizon, AT&T and Sprint execs will still be joining the panel. CNBC's Jim Cramer will moderate the event, which is likely to be dominated by talk of the potential acquisition.

Regulatory approval is more than just a formality, and could have significant financial implications to AT&T if the deal is blocked. The carrier would have to pay in the region of $3bn in breakup fees as well as commit to other penalties such as loss of spectrum.

More opinion on the acquisition in Ben Bajarin's analysis, with the potential consumer impact discussed here.T-Mobile FAQ:

Q&A: More Information About AT&T Acquisition of T-Mobile USA

Bellevue, Wash. — Mar. 20, 2011 PDT

An agreement was announced under which AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA. The agreement is the first step in a process that, including regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. Until then, we remain a separate company and continue to operate independently.

We know our customers, business partners and others may have many questions.

Here is some more information:

Will my service change?

There is no change in your service and we remain committed to ensuring you have the best experience possible experience using your T-Mobile USA products and services.

Will I now be billed by AT&T?

No, your billing remains exactly the same. T-Mobile USA continues to operate as an independent company. As always, you would receive advance notice to any changes to your services.

Why is T-Mobile USA doing this?

Bringing together these two world-class businesses will create significant benefits for customers. The merger will ensure the deployment of a robust 4G LTE network to 95% of the U.S. population, something neither company would achieve on its own. Also, because of our compatible networks and spectrum, the customers of T-Mobile USA and AT&T will experience improved voice and data service almost immediately after the networks are integrated.

Will T-Mobile USA's quality be reduced?

No. In fact, the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA will offer an even stronger service to customers. Until the acquisition is closed, we will work hard to maintain our position as the value leader with America's largest 4G network.

If the acquisition closes, will I still be able to use my T-Mobile USA phone?

Yes. Your T-Mobile USA device will operate the same in the future as it does today.

Should I wait to sign-up with T-Mobile USA or upgrade my phone?

No, T-Mobile USA offers the latest wireless devices that are affordable on America's Largest 4G Network and the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA will mean even stronger service for our customers. Now is a great time to be a T-Mobile customer.

Is T-Mobile USA getting the iPhone?

T-Mobile USA remains an independent company. The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.

Will my rate plan change because of the acquisition?

We will honor all contracted plans that are entered into before the change of ownership.

Where can I express my opinion on this?

T-Mobile customers can utilize the company's online Forums.