"AT&T anticipates regulators will require it to divest wireless spectrum and subscribers as a condition for approval," said a person with knowledge of the situation. These things are all worked out long before they are announced but let’s hear it from the little guy anyway: "The combination of the second-largest wireless carrier with the fourth-largest is ‘unthinkable’,” Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a Washington-based advocacy group, said in a statement. “We know the results of arrangements like this — higher prices, fewer choices, less innovation.” Isn’t he cute?
In addition to surpassing Verizon Wireless, AT&T could leave Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) as a far weaker No. 3 player in the industry, said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst for Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Washington. “AT&T was broken up and now it’s back with a vengeance,” said Bert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, a Washington-based non-profit researcher that challenges what it sees as abuses of concentrated economic power. “We have to decide if we’re happy with the idea of going back to monopolistic treatment of the telecom industry. AT&T has come back to monopolistic power just like the Terminator.”