RWA, responding to recent media reports that the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) believes the proposed merger between T-Mobile US, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) and Sprint Corp. (“Sprint”) is unlikely to be approved as currently structured, reiterates the association’s long-standing belief that the mega-deal, if consummated, will lead to a loss of jobs, an increase in wholesale and retail access prices, and will be particularly harmful to rural consumers who need reliable 4G/LTE and 5G coverage today and in the future.
The following statement can be attributed to RWA’s General Counsel Carri Bennet: “What the Wall Street Journal is reporting now is nothing new to RWA, its carrier members, and the rural Americans served by small and rural carriers. When AT&T and T-Mobile proposed a 4-to-3 merger in 2011, a comprehensive FCC report said such a mega-deal was not in the public interest. In 2014, when T-Mobile and Sprint first proposed tying-up, the former FCC Chairman said he was highly skeptical of a 4-to-3 merger, and so did the DOJ’s then antitrust chief. Nothing has changed between 2011 and 2019. Eliminating a nationwide carrier like Sprint will have no benefit to American consumers, including those who live, work or travel to rural markets.”
T-Mobile has made a long list of unenforceable promises concerning pricing, jobs and rural coverage in an attempt to put this merger to bed. Fortunately, DOJ is not buying these hollow promises and has put its foot down. Large scale horizontal mergers should only be allowed if they result in a competitive playing field that doesn’t harm consumers. A T-Mobile/Sprint merger certainly benefits their respective shareholders, but it does so at the expense of American consumers. Sprint’s elimination will result in New T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T enjoying a three-way market stranglehold that encourages concerted behavior that cannot be controlled once their fourth rival is eliminated forever.