Washington, D.C. – The following statement can be attributed to Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (“RWA”) General Counsel, Carri Bennet:
The proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint will allegedly bring the bounties of 5G wireless broadband to the United States by a German/Japanese controlled company if allowed to proceed. The merger will eliminate a nationwide, facilities-based LTE wireless competitor and should be blocked. The major question facing the FCC and DOJ is whether American consumers will be better off with one less retail option, one less wholesale network option for IoT, and one less potential disrupter in the innovation, device and application marketplace. RWA strongly believes the answer is “No.”
How do we know this? T-Mobile itself is Exhibit A. For the past four years, Sprint has been pre-occupied with on-again, off-again merger talks. Sprint’s hesitancy to focus on much needed network build out for its customers and the corresponding innovative services that come with such buildout and upgrades since 2014 is the overwhelming reason why it has stagnated and is now facing financial and operational difficulties. T-Mobile was in the same position for over two years in the lead up to its failed merger with AT&T. For two years T-Mobile treaded water and stagnated. As soon as that deal was aborted, T-Mobile started its remarkable ascent. Sprint could do the same. If the two companies truly need each other to survive, they can still work together and with other like-minded carriers – through spectrum leases, roaming deals and/or a joint-5G wholesale network. But allowing a complete merger and the inevitable reduction in competitive carriers will only hurt American consumers. RWA remains very concerned about the proposed merger and its impact on rural carriers who lease Sprint’s spectrum and participate in strategic roaming arrangements with Sprint to serve rural consumers.