Public Knowledge to Testify Before House Energy & Commerce Committee Against Sprint/T-Mobile Deal

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Public Knowledge Senior Policy Counsel Phillip Berenbroick will testify before the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce Wednesday, February 13 at 10:00 a.m. His testimony in the hearing on “Protecting Consumers and Competition: An Examination of the T-Mobile and Sprint Merger” will argue that the proposed merger is a bad deal for consumers, competition, and America’s wireless future -- and would increase wireless prices and fail to deliver any verifiable or merger-specific benefits.

The following may be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“This merger will not serve the public interest. Anyone who relies on their cell phone to communicate with loved ones, and participate in our increasingly global, digital, and mobile economy, will pay more because of this merger.

“Since the transaction was announced in April 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint have had numerous opportunities to demonstrate to antitrust enforcers, regulators, policymakers, and the public that this four-to-three merger would not violate competition laws, would affirmatively serve the public interest, and that the substantial reduction in competition it would cause is somehow offset by other public interest benefits. They have failed to make the case. 

“The evidence Sprint and T-Mobile have presented shows that permitting the companies to merge and consolidating the wireless market down to only three national carriers would result in higher prices for consumers -- inflicting significant harm on low-income, prepaid, and rural consumers; while also leading to tens of thousands of lost jobs; harming small and rural wireless providers; and eliminating avenues for potential new competitors to enter the wireless market.

“The companies’ claims that the merger would promote 5G network deployment have collapsed under scrutiny. The companies’ economic and engineering models have come under substantial attack and actually undermine the case the companies are making. The evidence shows that the merger will gut competition in the wireless marketplace and lead to dramatically higher prices for every wireless consumer.

“At best, the companies have a vision where a post-merger, New T-Mobile would sell more profitable plans to more affluent customers. However, this outcome is certainly not good for the people T-Mobile would leave behind: its low income customers, especially communities of color who disproportionately connect online using only a mobile device. In particular, the consumers and companies who want to see affordable, high-performing wireless availability would not benefit, as a significant reduction in competition works against each of those goals.

“Simply put, the proposed merger is unlawful under the antitrust laws and harms the public interest. In fact, this merger is so harmful for the American public that the companies’ own analysis confirms many of the arguments of the deal’s critics, requiring the companies to scramble and improvise reasons why it should be approved nonetheless. The primary supposed benefit of this merger -- increased 5G deployment -- makes no technical or economic sense.

“Policymakers should oppose this transaction, the Department of Justice should move to block it, and the Federal Communications Commission should deny the merger or designate the companies’ application for review by an administrative law judge. We ask this Committee to support competition, not consolidation, in the wireless market as the engine that will power American innovation and economic leadership in the digital economy.”

You may view the testimony here.

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