The comment period for the T-Mobile/Sprint merger is over. Now what?
Over 12,000 people voiced their opposition to the T-Mobile/Sprint merger application at the FCC. Will the FCC listen?
The proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, which will lead to less choice and higher prices in the mobile market, has just passed a big deadline.
Tuesday December 4th was the deadline for the public to make comments on T-Mobile’s latest economic analysis of the merger. This analysis ignored the serious consequences this merger would have on the cell phone plan market in the country, especially for low income people. That's why OpenMedia made a submission that was signed on to by an incredible 12,039 community members.
People signed on to this comment by the thousands because this deal is simply bad for the the public. Merging these two companies will leave the country with only three national providers, meaning customers will have less choice and cell phone plan prices will increase. What’s more, Sprint and T-Mobile are the largest wholesale providers for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and pre-paid markets. These primarily serve low-income people, and are the markets that are set to lose the most from this merger.
Unlike previous merger applications, like AT&T’s attempt to buy T-Mobile back in 2011, this merger has received little attention and opposition. With so many other issues going on at the moment, like the fight for Net Neutrality, and the lack of trust people have on the FCC, there has been little energy by watchdogs and the public to build a strong public opposition to this merger.
That’s why it was important that we not only submit a comment to the FCC, but that we actually back it up with people power. Without a vocal opposition to this merger, the Big Telecom-friendly FCC will just rubber stamp it.
The closing of the comment period also restarts the countdown to the deadline the FCC has to make a decision. The FCC has 180 days to make a decision from the time a merger application is submitted, but the commission paused that clock when T-Mobile submitted a new economic analysis of the merger at day 55.
The countdown clock has now restarted, which means we are expecting a decision on the merger to be released in the spring.
So what can we do now that the comment period has closed?
The merger is not a done deal. T-Mobile has attempted to merge with other cell phone providers twice before and every time it has failed, because these deals are simply not good for people.
With Ajit Pai at the head of the FCC and the muted opposition we have seen, however, there's a real risk that T-Mobile will get their wish.
That’s why we must keep fighting to stop this merger. Here’s what needs to happen now:
- We need to keep building opposition and making noise. We need to reach as many people as we can to build awareness of the downsides of this deal and mobilize people to speaking out.
If we can show that the public is opposed to this deal, the FCC is more likely to give this merger a proper review and Congress is more likely to act on it, which brings us to our next point...
- We need to pressure the new Democratic-controlled Congress in 2019 to launch a hearing on the merger through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The FCC and Ajit Pai have escaped congressional scrutiny over the past two years, allowing them to deregulate the telecom market and kill net neutrality.
With a new Congress, however, we have an opportunity to hold the FCC accountable for its decisions -- and it looks like the new Congress actually plans on doing this. In 2019, we need to make sure this merger is on Congress’ agenda.
- Even beyond holding the FCC to account and shedding light on the merger, we need to strengthen antitrust legislation. Over the past decade, we have seen Internet and telecom giants, like Google, Facebook, AT&T and Time Warner, take over our digital lives, exert their political influence, manipulate markets, and mismanage data. These companies have become too big to fail and governments around the world are finding it increasingly difficult to regulate them properly.
A growing movement is calling for stronger antitrust legislation that can help break these companies up and prevent mergers like the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.
We have a lot of work ahead of us in 2019 and it will only be possible if we work together. If you would like to join the movement to stop the T-Mobile and Sprint merger,make sure to sign up here and we’ll update you when we are ready to launch the next phase of this campaign.