Thirteen parties, including Dish, CWA, C-Spire, Public Knowledge, and NTCA have come together to form the 4Competition Coalition, calling on policymakers to block the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile deal.
Announced Thursday, the coalition contends that the $26.5 billion deal would result in higher prices, less competition, job losses, and harm to rural consumers.
“Americans deserve more choices for wireless service, not fewer,” said Phillip Berenbroick, Public Knowledge Senior Policy Counsel, in a statement. “If this merger is approved, consumers would likely face a price increase of more than 15 percent in many cases for their wireless service – without seeing any of the benefits that these companies promise. The proposed merger is anti-competitive and presumptively unlawful. The bottom line is that when it comes to wireless, consumers need more choices and more competition. Moving from four nationwide carriers to three would be a disaster.”
Members of the coalition include:
- Common Cause
- DISH Network
- Fight for the Future
- New America’s Open Technology Institute
- NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association
- Open Markets Institute
- Public Knowledge
- Rural Wireless Association
- The Greenlining Institute
- Writers Guild of America West
An earlier analysis by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union warned the tie-up could result in 30,000 job losses, including 25,500 from the elimination of retail stores and another 4,500 job cuts related to duplicate headquarter positions.
This is in contrast to promises from T-Mobile and Sprint executives who have said the deal would actually create jobs, as well as result in competitive benefits in the marketplace.
The coalition says T-Mobile and Sprint’s argument that the merger is needed in order for them to compete in the 5G market goes against the nation’s third and fourth largest carriers’ own comments regarding their network deployments.
“This claim goes against years of testimony from the two companies to the press, to investors, and to the public that they are both equipped and in the process of deploying nationwide 5G networks,” said Amir Nasr, policy program associate at New America’s Open Technology Institute, in a statement.
NCTA argues that the deal would threaten services currently available in rural markets.
“For example, NTCA members and other small rural operators have traditionally worked well with Sprint to establish mutually beneficial nationwide roaming and spectrum leasing arrangements, but those are at risk under a ‘New T-Mobile,’” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. “The loss of such agreements would hinder urban customers’ ability to use mobile services in rural areas, while also undermining those smaller operators dedicated to rural service. NTCA urges the FCC to deny the petition to merge because it is contrary to the public interest.”
While many of these concerns and arguments were raised during the FCC’s public comment period that processes has ended and the coalition is an alternate avenue to promote the group’s opposition to the deal.
T-Mobile and Sprint have said they expect the transaction will close in the first half of 2019.