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Is T-Mobile’s New FCC Filing and New Economic Argument a Bad Sign for Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Washington, DC — The news that the FCC has scheduled a December 4th filing date for comments responding to a new economic argument detailed by T-Mobile may be a bad sign for the merger prospects, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said today.

The news comes in response to a November 6 filing from T-Mobile. The filing, by a completely new set of economists and unveiled nearly five months after the company’s initial public interest statement, appears to largely abandon the company’s previous economic claims that the merger would accelerate nationwide 5G build-out; would help bring high-speed broadband to rural America; and would make T-Mobile into a super maverick, “Un-Carrier” competitor.

Instead, T-Mobile is now trying to make the case that it needs the merger to improve the quality of the Sprint and T-Mobile networks in order to better compete with AT&T and Verizon. Indeed, the economists suggest that both Sprint and T-Mobile must close a “quality gap” and become more similar to AT&T and Verizon. So much for both companies’ long-standing claims to be lower priced competitors.

According to CWA Research and Telecommunications Policy Director Debbie Goldman, “Why is T-Mobile hitting the reset button and making a completely different argument than they have advanced up until now? This shift in strategy suggests that the company’s earlier economic arguments and analysis were not persuasive -- something we pointed out in our comments to the FCC. Why choose now, after the close of the comment period, to adopt an entirely new line of argument from an entirely new set of economists? T-Mobile’s justifications are a moving target, underscoring that analysts who confidently predict merger approval have not been paying attention. Careful analysis of the merger continues to show it would harm the public interest by eliminating 30,000 jobs, reducing competition, and raising prices for consumers.”

To connect with CWA experts available to discuss the FCC filings, economic analyses, and related implications, please contact Beth Allen (ballen@cwa-union.org) or Amy Fetherolf (afetherolf@cwa-union.org), 202-434-1168.

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