T-Mobile, Sprint lambaste calls for new notice seeking comment

Rural (Pixabay)
T-Mobile and Sprint countered requests by rural service providers for an extended comment period, saying the FCC needs to act now. (Pixabay)

T-Mobile and Sprint filed their opposition to calls for a formal comment period on proposed changes to their planned merger, saying petitioners already have had plenty of time to comment and it’s time for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act.

The August 9 filing (PDF) came after the Wireless Internet Services Providers Association (WISPA) on August 8 (PDF) filed a request for a public notice and review period. WISPA’s request followed one earlier that week lodged by the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) and NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association.

RELATED: T-Mobile/Sprint merger changes prompt calls for public comment period

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T-Mobile and Sprint are having none of it, saying “the Petitioners have articulated no credible basis that could plausibly justify yet another delay in Commission action in this proceeding."

The license transfer applications associated with the merger have been pending for over 415 days, and the companies have submitted an “unprecedented amount” of material and data justifying their plans. “The resulting record before the Commission is comprehensive and complete, and it is time for the Commission to act,” they asserted.

The filing, posted to the FCC’s website on Monday, comes as the coalition of state attorneys general fighting the deal is growing. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said on Monday that the state would join another 15 in a multistate lawsuit. That trial is due to begin in December.

Prior to the Department of Justice (DoJ) signing off on the deal with the requirement that prepaid assets are divested to Dish Network and other conditions, a majority of FCC commissioners publicly stated their support for the merger based on the record before the agency at the time, according to the joint T-Mobile/Sprint filing. (Commissioner Michael O’Rielly indicated via Twitter in May that he’s inclined to support the transaction but he declined to comment when asked about it earlier this month.)

“The additional commitments resulting from the Consent Decree only create added public interest benefits for consumers and competition,” the companies said, noting that the requirement that Sprint divest 800 MHz spectrum to Dish does not impact New T-Mobile’s network plan as such spectrum is not part of the company’s plan following the transition of customers off that spectrum.

RELATED: Trial delay worse for Sprint and Dish than T-Mobile: analyst

RWA and NTCA called for, among other things, details of Dish’s MVNO agreement to be made available under the FCC’s protective review orders, at a minimum, and said there’s no immediate urgency for the FCC to act without public comment on the newer issues.

WISPA also suggested that proposed changes to the rural broadband market could affect competition with smaller fixed broadband providers and eligibility for universal service high-cost funding.  

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