T-Mobile's proposed 26 billion acquisition of Sprint will “lead to excessive consolidation and undermine innovation,” a group of Democratic senators say in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice.
“It will raise prices, particularly on low-income consumers and seniors,” Senators Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) and others write. This merger offers little in return for these likely tangible harms. It will not speed up the deployment of 5G, nor will it achieve meaningful nationwide coverage for rural Americans.”
The senators want regulators to block the merger -- a deal that would leave the country with only three major mobile wireless carriers, all of which are roughly the same size.
T-Mobile and Sprint combined have around 100 million wireless customers, while Verizon has roughly 116 million and AT&T has around 93 million.
“Our enforcers have been emphatic in recent years that a four-to-three merger in the telecommunications industry would be harmful,” the lawmakers write to the FCC and DOJ.
They note that the government blocked T-Mobile's merger with AT&T in 2011, and a proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint in 2014.
“History has proven that those were the right decisions,” Blumenthal and the others write, adding that prices dropped in the years after the mergers were blocked.
T-Mobile and Sprint say they plan to invest nearly $40 billion to roll out a nationwide 5G network, if the merger goes through. The companies argue the new network will offer 5G speeds four to six times faster than each company could achieve independently, which will spur competition by forcing Verizon and AT&T to improve their own networks.
But the lawmakers are skeptical of whether a merger is necessary to accomplish the 5G buildout. “T-Mobile's and Sprint's sudden claims that neither can create a competitive 5G network separately flies in the face of announcements, disclosures, and marketing to consumers and investors over the past two years,” they write.