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Public Knowledge Argues That Proposed Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Conditions Do Not Protect Consumers

October 11, 2019 , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This week, Public Knowledge filed comments with the Department of Justice regarding its proposed conditions on the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. Consumer Reports, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and New America’s Open Technology Institute also joined these comments. Public Knowledge previously filed a Petition to Deny the merger with the Federal Communications Commission and testified against the deal on Capitol Hill.

Separately, a coalition of state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, and joined by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and others, rejected the FCC’s reasoning and recently sued to block the merger. The states’ lawsuit will continue in the Southern District of New York, and is scheduled for trial in December.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge:

“We’ve all heard that ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ But here, the DOJ isn’t even proposing that we give up competition now to get even more competition later — it’s proposing that we give up the bird we have today in the hope that it eventually flies back. This proposed merger substantially lessens competition in violation of antitrust law. Betting the future of wireless competition in this country on a shaky set of promises and hopes would not serve the American consumer.

“The DOJ’s proposed conditions do not preserve competition and protect consumers. Under their terms, the number of nationwide wireless carriers would go from four to three, with DISH perhaps entering the market with new spectrum assets years down the line. In the meantime, DISH would simply resell T-Mobile’s network and spectrum. Thus, even with these proposed conditions, this merger is unlawful, and should be blocked.

“Especially with the lawsuit by the states pending, the DOJ should withdraw its proposed conditions, or the court should reject them.”

You may view the filing here.