clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

AT&T CEO Doesn’t See How Regulators Approve Sprint/T-Mobile Deal

If AT&T couldn’t buy T-Mobile a few years ago, why would regulators allow Sprint to do it?

Rob Wilson / Shutterstock

AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said Tuesday he doesn’t see how regulators can approve a rumored deal by SoftBank’s Sprint Corp. to buy T-Mobile USA.

“The problem as I see it is the way the government shut our deal down. They wrote a complaint and a very specific complaint. You’re consolidating the industry from four to three national competitors,” Stephenson said Tuesday during an event at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

Three years ago, the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission rejected AT&T’s $39 billion deal to acquire T-Mobile. Regulators have also raised some of the same concerns about a possible Sprint/T-Mobile deal.

“If you think of Sprint and T-Mobile combining, I struggle to understand how that’s not four going to three,” Stephenson said.

AT&T’s CEO is hardly the first person to point this out, but he comes at this issue from a slightly more personal angle, since his company’s failure to convince regulators to approved the T-Mobile deal resulted in AT&T paying a $4 billion termination fee when the acquisition fell apart.

Despite all the naysayers, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son seems prepared to move forward with a proposal anyway, probably this summer.

AT&T is currently trying to convince regulators to approve its $67 billion deal to acquire satellite company DirecTV. Stephenson repeated some of his previous statements about why AT&T wants to buy the satellite TV company, namely that it will give the wireless giant a better position to acquire content.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.