WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Judge Victor Marrero of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York released his decision approving the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. The expected result was first reported on Monday night, prior to the release of the full opinion on Tuesday morning.
The decision rules against attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia, who argued the deal would crush competition and raise prices. The merger will combine two of the four nationwide wireless carriers, eliminate choices for people seeking lower-priced plans and raise prices for all wireless customers. As Free Press has shown, the deal will disproportionately harm low-income people and communities of color, who relied on competition between T-Mobile and Sprint and their prepaid brands to keep access affordable.
Free Press Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood made the following statement:
“How many times will judges and antitrust enforcers be fooled by the empty promises these companies make to get these deals approved? Sadly, it’s happened again. People already pay way too much and have hardly any choices in a consolidated mobile and broadband marketplace. It’s hard to believe a sitting federal judge could be so unaware of the realities of this industry and the track record of phone and cable companies, but here we are.
“The judge dismissed significant evidence and expert testimony, swerving in the opinion between his professed uncertainty about how to assess antitrust economic arguments and his unrealistic predictions that T-Mobile would keep competing even after joining the ranks of wireless giants AT&T and Verizon.
“While the court may think it unlikely for a newly entrenched trio of enormous wireless carriers to collude rather than compete, the history of broken and abandoned merger promises from these companies — to say nothing of the mountains of evidence and expert analysis in this trial — say otherwise. The judge is showing a stunning lack of awareness and attention to the facts when he credits the claims of T-Mobile executives that their company will compete just the same as ever, even after swallowing its biggest rival for lower-priced service.
“The judge was not alone in willfully ignoring or failing to grasp the harms caused by removing a competitor from this already highly concentrated market. Using an unhealthy mix of hubris, bad judgment and petty politics, the FCC’s Republican majority and Donald Trump’s top antitrust lawyer also decided to wave this deal through — reportedly ignoring the advice of experts at both agencies who had called to reject it.
“More than a dozen state AGs rightly stepped in to fill the void, making the obvious case that competition between T-Mobile and Sprint benefits all wireless users and especially those who seek out lower-priced plans and greater value. We thank the AGs for working so hard to stave off this terrible result.
“This deal will be most harmful to the two carriers’ poorer and more urban customer base, who will pay dearly for this combination after yet another failure by our nation’s antitrust enforcers. This approval is nothing but bad news for people who already pay too much for essential communications services.”