Washington, D.C. – The Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (RWA) is grateful for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Attorneys General of over a dozen other states and the District of Columbia (State AGs) for vigorously challenging the T-Mobile/Sprint merger this past year and for now securing concessions from “New T-Mobile” that will help their residents in the years to come. The prospect of new jobs for Californians and the availability of low-cost wireless broadband plans nationwide is certainly a step in the right direction.
However, from a rural consumer perspective, the proposed settlement between the State AGs and the two wireless carriers is short on tangible benefits. The settlement that T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to enter into, and which was announced earlier today, does not offer any type of rural coverage deployment commitments, whether brand new or even re-hashed from previous company promises. For nearly two years, RWA has warned that the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint would negatively impact rural coverage and especially rural consumers, and nothing in this proposed settlement has changed our opinion on the matter.
RWA hopes that the State AGs will enforce all of the terms entered into by New T-Mobile, and that they individually and collectively monitor the carrier’s progress month-by-month, quarter-by-quarter, and year-by-year. More importantly, the State AGs should actively enforce any missed deadlines or failed commitments and impose financial or other penalties on New T-Mobile, if warranted. In the meantime, RWA will continue to monitor all of New T-Mobile’s rural coverage promises made since April 2018 – – promises that the carriers used to get FCC and DOJ approval of this merger – – and bring any deployment or coverage failures to the attention of regulators, antitrust officials, and lawmakers if they do not materialize.