A group of public interest groups, unions, telecom companies and others formed the new 4Competition Coalition to work to challenge the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. The new association said it will work to educate the public on what the group said are the harms of the merger and will do so at the FCC, the Department of Justice, the White House, Congress and the state level.
“Americans deserve more choices for wireless service, not fewer,” said Phillip Berenbroick of Public Knowledge in a release announcing the new group.
“If this merger is approved, consumers would likely face a price increase of more than 15 percent in many cases for their wireless service—without seeing any of the benefits that these companies promise. The proposed merger is anticompetitive and presumptively unlawful. The bottom line is that when it comes to wireless, consumers need more choices and more competition. Moving from four nationwide carriers to three would be a disaster," said Berenbroick.
The 4Competition Coalition members include:
- Common Cause
- C Spire
- Dish Network
- Fight for the Future
- New America’s Open Technology Institute
- NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association
- Open Markets Institute
- Public Knowledge
- Rural Wireless Association
- The Greenlining Institute
- Writers Guild of America-West
"We think now is the right time to do it," said Dish Network's Jeff Blum during a media event announcing the new association. He said the association would work to advocate its position to state attorneys general as well as at the federal level.
“Sprint and T-Mobile have not shown that this merger as it is currently proposed will serve the public interest. Instead, they have admitted that consumer prices will rise. Further, there’s no evidence 5G investment would accelerate as a result of this deal, nor have Sprint and T-Mobile proven any of their other claimed benefits. We are joining the coalition to advocate for a competitive wireless industry that serves consumers’ interests," Blum added in the association's press release.
Blum said on the call that the association wouldn't disclose its financial situation, including how much money it plans to spend on its advocacy effort. Blum added that the association won't accept the merger under any conditions or divestitures.
“The harm comes from the merger itself," Blum explained, adding that T-Mobile has "asked the FCC to prevent new competitive entrants from coming into the market, like Dish ... That doesn’t sound like a maverick.”
The FCC recently closed its public comment process related to the merger. During that public comment period, Dish, C Spire, CWA and others laid out their arguments against the transaction. Specifically, they generally argued the transaction would reduce competition in the wireless market, would raise prices for consumers, would result in job cuts and wouldn't speed the rollout of 5G technology in the United States.
Thus, the new 4Competition Coalition is essentially designed as a way for its members to continue to push their position on the merger at the FCC, DOJ and elsewhere outside of those agencies' official public commentary procedures.
Sprint and T-Mobile executives have consistently said that they expect to close their proposed merger in the first half of next year. Wall Street analysts have said that the odds on the deal receiving regulatory approval have been improving in recent months.