WASHINGTON — More than 60,000 Americans registered their opposition to the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger in a new petition submitted to the FCC on Tuesday by Free Press, Communications Workers of America, Common Cause, Demand Progress Education Fund, and other public interest groups.
Over the last several months, consumer groups, tech watchdogs, labor unions, racial-justice advocates, and others have spoken out against the deal. In addition, dozens of members of Congress and several candidates for president have registered their opposition to the deal.
If approved, the merger would leave the United States with only three nationwide wireless service providers. Despite claims made by T-Mobile and Sprint executives the deal would reduce competition, raise prices and result in the loss of as many as 30,000 jobs. It won’t advance their stated goal of faster 5G deployment and improved rural broadband service. In addition, the deal would be harmful to low-income consumers and communities of color.
T-Mobile and Sprint customers are far more likely to be people of color than are AT&T’s and Verizon’s. Fifty-six percent of T-Mobile’s subscribers in 2018 identified as people of color, as did 45 percent of Sprint’s. Sprint and T-Mobile (and their prepaid brands Boost, Virgin and Metro) are the dominant providers of mobile service for low-income people. More than 30 percent of Metro and Boost subscribers report yearly incomes of $25,000 or less.
Groups gathering petition signatures include American Family Voices, Center for Media Justice, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Daily Kos, Demand Progress Education Fund, Fight for the Future, Free Press, The Nation and more.
“With this proposed merger T-Mobile and Sprint have turned their backs on the very customers that made these companies profitable: those in low-income communities and people of color,” said Nilda Muhr, campaign manager for Free Press. “Don’t believe a thing these company executives say about the benefits of this mega-merger. Combining two competitors means less competition, and less competition means higher prices for those who can least afford the costs of staying connected. Widening the digital divide is never in the public interest. That’s why the FCC must listen to the tens of thousands of Americans speaking out against this deal and reject the T-Mobile/Sprint merger immediately.”
“A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile will be good for no one but Sprint and T-Mobile shareholders and executives,” said Robert Cruickshank, campaign director at Demand Progress Education Fund. “Three national companies with roughly the same market share have no incentive to compete head-to-head. The result will be less choice, worse wireless plans, and higher prices for customers – especially those with lower incomes.”
“This merger means fewer jobs and lower wages,” said Debbie Goldman, research and policy director for CWA. “CWA’s analysis shows that 30,000 people will lose their jobs as the new T-Mobile closes redundant corporate-owned and authorized dealer stores. The labor market will be flooded with unemployed retail wireless workers seeking jobs, and average annual earnings for those workers still employed will decline by as much as $3,000. Job loss and reduced wages are not in the public interest - it’s clear that the FCC should block this merger.”
“T-Mobile doesn't have us covered,” said Erin Shields, national field organizer for Internet Rights at the Center for Media Justice. “Though people of color make up a majority of their customers, this merger with Sprint pulls the rug out from under our communities. Reduced competition will likely mean higher costs for those on lower incomes and force many to choose between feeding their families and keeping them connected. The FCC must step in and block this merger to avoid further exacerbating the digital divide and leaving our communities even more disconnected than they already are.”
“Our democracy depends on all Americans having access to robust and affordable wireless voice and broadband services in order to fully participate in 21st-century society,” said Yosef Getachew, director of Media and Democracy Program at Common Cause. “Unfortunately, a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint would only lead to fewer choices, higher prices, and widen the digital divide. Low-income Americans and other marginalized communities who disproportionately rely on T-Mobile and Sprint for more affordable services may also find themselves displaced from wireless access if this merger is approved. Thousands of Americans have spoken out to tell the FCC there are no benefits to the public interest in a marketplace where Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are allowed to call all of the shots. The FCC must listen to these concerns and block this merger.”