Vonya McCann has emerged as the point person in charge of Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) fight to stop AT&T (NYSE:T) from acquiring T-Mobile USA. As the head of Sprint's lobbying office in Washington, D.C., she is charged with convincing the FCC and the Justice Department that AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition is a bad idea for consumers and the industry.
In an interview with the Washington Post in May, McCann said everyone should care about this merger. "It can have direct effects on the pocketbooks of consumers."
Consumer advocate groups have sided with Sprint against the deal, as have many smaller operators including Cellular South.
While Sprint CEO Dan Hesse may be the public face behind the fight against the deal, McCann is the quiet operator behind the scenes. But she definitely has Hesse's ear, since he is deeply involved in the battle. Bloomberg recently reported that Hesse has tripled the amount of time he spends on government affairs, and that he is courting state regulators and top technology CEOs to come out against the deal.
For McCann's part, she is using her connections and her influence in the inner circles of Washington as well as the private sector to convince people that the acquisition is a bad idea for consumers. However, she has also been on the other side of the fence, arguing in favor of Sprint's acquisition of Nextel in 2004.
Before joining Sprint, McCann worked for the U.S. Department of State as ambassador and deputy assistant secretary for International Communications and Information Policy. In that role, she developed U.S. positions on global communications and information policy, represented the United States in international organizations dealing with telecommunications issues, and acted as chief advocate and negotiator to advance U.S. policy objectives.
The stakes are certainly high for McCann. Some analysts believe that, if approved, the AT&T/T-Mobile deal could be a huge problem for Sprint, which has been struggling to keep up with AT&T and Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) growth.