AT&T wants to block Sprint from T-Mobile discussions

AT&T has filed a motion to prevent Sprint from accessing confidential information related to the proposed acquisition of fellow carrier T-Mobile.

According to AT&T, Sprint is trying to gain inside information about the deal so it can jockey a position to help prevent the acquisition from going through.

The reason Sprint says it needs the information is because it, along with Cellular South, has filed its own lawsuit challenging the proposed sale. Sprint argues it has a legal right to all information regarding the terms of the deal.

The purchase of T-Mobile, which would allow AT&T to leapfrog into the title of biggest carrier in the nation, has proven to be potentially more trouble than it’s worth.

In addition to facing a lawsuit from Sprint, the AT&T-T-Mobile deal will have to undergo regulatory scrutiny from the government, and is already the subject of another lawsuit from the Department of Justice.

At issue is whether or not such a buyout would lead to monopolistic, antitrust problems. Although Sprint and Verizon would still be around, AT&T and T-Mobile combined would be far bigger than any other US carrier, and since the two are the only major GSM networks in the country, it may not be able to pass regulatory approval. Sprint and Verizon, along with many smaller carriers like MetroPCS and Cellular South, all operate on a different network standard known as CDMA.

It will be well into 2012 before any substantial ruling in any of these cases is brought to light.