Congress Urged To Examine T-Mobile's Planned Merger

Consumer advocacy groups are urging House Democrats to convene a hearing to examine T-Mobile's proposed $26 billion acquisition of Sprint.

“Announcing hearings to examine the single largest pending wireless telecommunications merger, and one of the largest in the nation’s history, would be an excellent first step to implementing your vision for stronger antitrust enforcement, protecting consumers, promoting competition, and standing up for American workers,” Consumer Reports, Free Press, Public Knowledge and other groups write in a letter sent Wednesday to Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-New York) and Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey).

T-Mobile and Sprint said in April they had agreed to merge, leaving the country with only three major wireless carriers. The carriers have around 100 million wireless customers combined, while Verizon has roughly 116 million and AT&T has around 93 million.

T-Mobile and Sprint previously tried to join forces in 2014, when Sprint agreed to acquire T-Mobile for around $32 billion. The companies canceled their plans after federal regulators expressed antitrust concerns.

Pallone, seen as likely to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee next year, previously called for hearings on the proposed deal.

“We have not held a single hearing to examine the state of competition ... or how a loss of a competitor could affect consumers or workers,” he wrote in an April letter to Representatives Greg Walden (R-Oregon), outgoing leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), outgoing leader of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

T-Mobile and Sprint say they plan to invest nearly $40 billion to roll out a nationwide high-speed 5G network.

But Public Knowledge and other advocacy groups opposed to the merger say the deal will lead to higher prices for consumers, poorer service and fewer incentives for the carriers to invest in their networks.

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