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US Senate Democrats want another hearing for the T-Mobile-Sprint merger

The letter warns that the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint could lead to higher prices, diminished competition, and stifled growth.

Published onJanuary 25, 2019

  • Five U.S. Senate Democrats called for a hearing for the T-Mobile merger with Sprint.
  • The senators want the hearing to look into the potential impact of the merger.
  • There are concerns that the merger could lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and stifled growth.

In a letter sent to two top members of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, five U.S. Senate Democrats called for a hearing on the potential effects of the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

The letter brought up concerns that the merger could lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and less flexibility when you want to switch carriers. There’s also concern that the merger could impact low-income consumers since T-Mobile and Sprint are also competitors in the prepaid front.

The senators also want to look into what impact the merger might have on 5G deployment.

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T-Mobile and Sprint previously argued that their combined resources would enable a faster and more efficient 5G rollout, along with better coverage and speeds. However, each carrier already talked up progress on their respective 5G networks. In an interview with Android Authority during CES 2019, Sprint even said it’s prepared to go it alone should its merger with T-Mobile fall through.

Interestingly, the five senators brought up AT&T’s failed attempt to acquire T-Mobile back in 2011. At that time, the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that such a merger would harm competition.

The U.S. Senators are nervous about the proposed merger and want to take a second look.

Funny enough, Sprint was one of the many voices that spoke out against the attempted merger. At the time, Sprint argued that the AT&T merger with T-Mobile would stifle growth and hurt the wireless industry. Those are the same concerns that folks have today with the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

The senators ended the letter by attributing the wireless industry’s progress over the years to increased competition.

“It was only when new entrants arrived, in part because of greater access to spectrum, that the wireless revolution arrived, dramatically driving down prices and pushing cell phones into the pockets, purses, and palms of most Americans. In 2019, we cannot afford to move backwards.”

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Things have hit somewhat of a standstill as of late in regards to the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. T-Mobile already received approval from its majority shareholder, Deutsche Telekom, in October 2018. However, the partial U.S. government shutdown meant that the FCC did not fully operate for 35 days. It also meant that the FCC did not continue its decision process on the merger.

The U.S. Senate secured enough votes to pass a three-week funding bill. The bill will fully re-open the federal government and fund it through February 15. The FCC might wait until a more long-term funding bill gets passed until it returns to the decision process.

Android Authority reached out to T-Mobile and Sprint for comment on the letter and will update this post if we hear back.

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