AT&T shot back at Sprint CEO Dan Hesse on Friday after the executive slammed AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA in a speech at the Commonweath Club in San Francisco.
Hesse repeatedly criticized the $39 billion deal during his speech, according to CNET, saying at one point, “We just can’t let this happen.”
AT&T quickly responded to Hesse’s remarks.
In a post on AT&T’s public policy blog, company policy executive Jim Cicconi called Hesse’s comments about the merger “way off base.”
“Given that Sprint is a major competitor to AT&T in the hyper competitive wireless market Mr. Hesse describes, no one should be surprised that they would oppose this merger,” Cicconi said. “But it is self-serving for them to argue that the highly competitive wireless market they cited only months ago is now threatened by the very type of transaction they seemed prepared to defend previously.”
Cicconi’s comments mark one of the first times AT&T has directly responded to Sprint’s criticism of its acquisition of T-Mobile, a deal Sprint had pursued for itself.
Hesse has repeatedly slammed the deal and Sprint has issued statements opposing the merger, but AT&T’s response has been muted. The company has defended the deal on its merits but, until Friday, had not taken any direct shots back at Sprint.
Cicconi did not actually call Hesse a hypocrite, but his post clearly attempts to frame Hesse as such. Cicconi called Hesse’s Commonwealth Club speech “at odds with his own past statements” and listed several recent speeches where Hesse extolled the competitiveness of the U.S. wireless industry.
“If Sprint is worried about the growth or position of its competitors in the wireless space, the proper place for them to respond is in the marketplace,” Cicconi said.
If AT&T’s deal with T-Mobile is approved by regulators, the company will become the largest carrier in the country and gain a near duopoly hold on the U.S. wireless market together with Verizon Wireless. AT&T argues that its merger with T-Mobile will expand mobile broadband into rural areas and increase capacity in large cities, ultimately serving the public interest.