CWA, rural, and public interest organizations urge Congress to not use COVID-19 recovery money to fund T-Mobile’s merger commitments

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), New America’s Open Technology Institute, the Rural Wireless Association, NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association, the American Economic Liberties Project, and Free Press Action sent a letter today calling on Congress to ensure that T-Mobile does not receive COVID-19 recovery funding to meet the merger-specific build-out commitments it agreed to when it sought approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger from the FCC, the Department of Justice, state attorneys general, and state public utilities commissions.

“The New T-Mobile has repeatedly and emphatically claimed that as a direct result of the merger, it would have the necessary resources to deliver 5G to millions of square miles of the US and hundreds of millions of Americans, including those living in and traveling through rural America,” the letter says. “[T]o the extent there will be additional stimulus recovery measures, Congress needs to make sure T-Mobile does not receive funding as a corporate handout to meet commitments it already made based on synergies that it lauded to get its deal done.” 

The groups also point out that the FCC specified that its decision to approve the merger “would be conditioned on the network build out commitments of the licensees to provide 5G service to a large portion of the US population, including rural areas.” 

“Congress must hold the new T-Mobile accountable for the promises it made to ram the merger through the approval process,” said CWA Director of Government Affairs Dan Mauer. “T-Mobile promised that the merger would give the company the resources to build out 5G to nearly the entire US population, including rural areas. COVID-19 recovery funds should be used to address the crisis caused by the pandemic, not as a corporate handout to help the new T-Mobile fulfill the promises the company was eager to make to push this merger through.”

For nearly two years, T-Mobile argued that as soon as it could join forces with Sprint, it would be in a position to compete effectively against AT&T, Verizon, and other telecom and cable industry giants by offering numerous “compelling public interest benefits” to America’s broadband consumers. 

T-Mobile made the following merger-specific buildout commitments to expand coverage and increase download speeds to rural America to convince the Federal Communications Commission and the US Department of Justice to approve the merger:

  • New T-Mobile will offer download speeds of 25 Mbps or more to 84 percent of America’s rural POPs by 2024.  

  • New T-Mobile will offer download speeds of 25 Mbps or more to 2.4 million square miles of rural America by 2024.  

  • New T-Mobile will offer “outdoor” coverage to 99 percent of America’s rural POPs by 2024.

  • New T-Mobile will bring 5G to at least 99 percent of the US population receiving download speeds of 50 Mbps or more by April 1, 2026.

  • New T-Mobile will bring 5G to at least 90 percent of the US population receiving download speeds of 100 Mbps or more by April 1, 2026.

Links:

Congress should not use COVID-19 recovery money to fund T-Mobile’s merger commitments (CWA, Apr. 21, 2020)