CWA: FCC 3-2 vote approving anti-competitive, job cutting T-Mobile-Sprint merger followed “fundamentally flawed process”

FCC Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the anti-competitive, job cutting T-Mobile-Sprint merger. The vote followed a fundamentally flawed process, lacked transparency, and failed to adhere to existing Commission rules and precedent.

“This transaction remains deeply harmful to consumers and workers. The merger will result in the loss of as many as 30,000 jobs and downward pressure on wireless workers’ wages. The companies’ unsubstantiated pledges and commitments are unenforceable and filled with loopholes. And through the divestiture deal with DISH, T-Mobile is creating its largest customer, not a true competitor in the marketplace,” said Debbie Goldman, Research and Telecommunications Policy Director for the Communications Workers of America. “Thankfully, the lawsuit from 17 state attorneys general stands on solid ground, with compelling facts and arguments on their side as they move closer to trial.”

As FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote in an opinion column explaining why she voted against the merger: “Shrinking the number of national providers from four to three will hurt consumers, harm competition, and eliminate thousands of jobs. In deciding to overlook these harms, the FCC and the Department of Justice have been wooed by a few unenforceable concessions and hollow promises from the two companies involved.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) slammed the FCC for the approval of the merger. "Overwhelming evidence shows that approving this merger will almost certainly hurt competition and consumers and lead to higher prices, worse service, and less innovation," said Sen. Klobuchar.

Earlier this month, nine organizations including CWA filed a joint petition with the FCC calling on the Commission to pause its review of the proposed merger while issues related to Sprint’s alleged Lifeline fraud were investigated by the Commission. The joint petition called the merger review process “highly unusual” and urged the FCC to seek public comment on major changes to the transaction that have taken place since the conclusion of the formal comment period. 

Last week, CWA filed Tunney Act comments with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division, analyzing why the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint remedy fails the public interest standard and calling on DOJ to withdraw its consent. Prominent antitrust economists, and other rural and public interest organizations, including Rural Wireless Association, American Antitrust Institute, Public Knowledge, Consumer Reports, Electronic Frontiers Foundation, and New America’s Open Technology Institute also filed Tunney Act comments in opposition to the DOJ’s proposed remedy. 

Links:

FCC 3-2 vote approving anti-competitive, job cutting T-Mobile-Sprint merger followed “fundamentally flawed process” (CWA, Oct 16, 2019)

The T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Will Only Hurt Consumers (the Atlantic, Oct. 16, 2019)

Klobuchar Slams FCC for T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Approval (Broadcasting & Cable, Oct. 17, 2019)