Nov 25 2019

WASHINGTON, DC—The proposed T-Mobile/Spring debate is perhaps the biggest issue facing the telecom industry, particularly for rural telecom carriers who may be adversely impacted by the merger of industry giants.

Gigi Sohn, Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and Benton Senior Fellow & Public Advocate, discussed the merger and its potential repercussions as the keynote speaker at the NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association Fall Legal Seminar.

In her presentation titled “The Not So Good, Very Bad and Really Weird Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint,” Sohn, a leading advocate for open, affordable and democratic communications networks, argues that the T-Mobile/Sprint merger would be harmful for broadband providers serving rural communities.

“First and foremost, the merger would result in increased prices, by some models as high as 15 percent, with even bigger increases for low-income users of pre-paid services,” Sohn said. She points to comparable mergers in Europe resulting in double-digit price increases for consumers.

Sohn also noted that cable companies aren’t positioned, at the present time, to be major competitors in the mobile wireless market. She noted that the companies involved in the merger have made promises to protect the interests of consumers, but that those promises are “speculative, unenforceable and not specific to the merger.”

Of particular note to NTCA members, Sohn said that the merger will reduce opportunities for roaming and spectrum sharing agreements—to the likely detriment of rural consumers.

“Sprint has been a long and valuable partner to rural broadband companies, while T-Mobile has shown little interest in such partnerships,” Sohn said. “Thus, rather than increasing coverage in rural areas, the merger would likely result in reduced coverage.”

But she notes that the merger situation is far from settled, particularly with 16 Attorneys General going to trial on December 9 to block the T-Mobile/Spring merger.

Sohn’s presentation took place November 20. Click here to read the full text of her speech to the NTCA.

More Resources on how the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Harms Rural America:

 In February, Bennet testified before the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology about the negative impact that the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger could have on rural communities.

Click here to listen to “Rural Wireless Carriers Are Challenging T-Mobile and Sprint Merger” on NPR .

Also, click here to read “How the Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Would Harm Consumers, Competition and Jobs” , an op-ed written by Bennet and Public Knowledge Senior Policy Counsel Phillip Berenbroick.