Press Release Tech Transitions

Public Knowledge Joins 7 Public Interest Groups Urging FCC To Protect Consumers as T-Mobile Terminates 3G Network

May 3, 2021 , ,

Today, Public Knowledge joined 7 other public interest, rural, and consumer advocacy groups in a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission to protect Dish Network’s Boost Mobile subscribers from disruption and potential loss of service as T-Mobile prepares to terminate its 3G network. Although Public Knowledge agrees that T-Mobile’s shut-off of its 3G network will benefit the public interest in the long term, the transition must not harm vulnerable customers or undermine competition in the process.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“Dish Network accuses T-Mobile of engaging in deliberate anticompetitive practices aimed at hobbling Dish Network’s efforts to compete as a national mobile provider. T-Mobile responds that its decision to shut down its 3G network is part of a broader initiative by the wireless industry generally to shut down increasingly obsolete 2G and 3G networks and repurpose this spectrum for 5G. 

“While freely acknowledging the benefits cited by T-Mobile, the Commission cannot allow these benefits to come at the cost of the fundamental values that have consistently guided the Commission’s actions in each technology transition: universal service, consumer protection, competition and public safety. Commission action here does not require a finding that T-Mobile is acting for the express purpose of sabotaging Dish Network’s competitive entry. Rather, a review of the current reality, shaped by the equipment shortages and other difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals that the Commission must mediate between T-Mobile and Dish Network to protect these fundamental values.

“[T]he first responsibility of the Commission in this instance is to fully inform itself of the situation for the purpose of determining whether it must take action to protect subscribers and to advance the public interest. [O]nly the Commission can accurately determine an accurate number of other rural network operators actually and potentially impacted by the T-Mobile CDMA shut down, and whether protecting their customers requires any additional action. Only once the Commission has command of the facts can it responsibly take whatever action is necessary to protect potentially impacted customers. 

“The sunset of aging 2G/3G networks, like the Analog Sunset and other industry-wide transitions before it, has the potential to bring enormous benefits to the public. Also like the transitions before it, it will require the FCC to ensure that the transition does not result in unintended consumer harms. The current dispute between T-Mobile and Dish Network illustrates why Congress created the Commission and invested it with broad powers to protect and promote the public interest [in the first place.]”

You may view the letter for more information.