Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Harms Our Democracy

We joined with the Communications Workers of America and allied groups to testify against the T-Mobile/Sprint merger during a public hearing at the California Public Utilities Commission on January 16 in Los Angeles.

Statement of Kiyana Asemanfar, policy outreach coordinator for California Common Cause, at the California Public Utilities Commission public hearing Jan. 16, 2019 on the impact of the proposed merger of T-Mobile/Sprint on California. California Common Cause members joined the Communications Workers of America and allied groups to oppose the merger.

“California Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy and reinventing a responsive government that works for the public interest.

California Common Cause and our national organization Common Cause strongly oppose the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger. This merger would pose significant public interest harms for consumers and our democracy. When monopoly telecom companies consolidate, they can abuse their power by raising prices. This gives Americans fewer choices for broadband services that are essential to our daily lives.

The wireless industry is already highly consolidated and will only get worse if T-Mobile and Sprint are allowed to merge. This merger would reduce the number of nationwide wireless carriers from four down to three, resulting in fewer choices, higher prices, and a lower quality of service for all Americans. T-Mobile has been a disruptive force in the marketplace offering innovative products and affordable services to compete with the other carriers. And as a current customer of T-Mobile, I appreciate T-Mobile’s innovations.  With this merger, however, T-Mobile could be left with little incentive to continue to innovate and offer the affordable services that it does now.

The impact of this merger would uniquely affect Californian residents.  The majority of wireless subscribers in Los Angeles and Sacramento are T-Mobile and Sprint customers. The merger would also particularly harm low-income and other marginalized communities in California who rely on T-Mobile and Sprint’s services. Both carriers offer affordable prepaid services which serve low-income Californians. In fact, one third of T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS customers and Sprint-owned Boost Mobile customers make less than $25,000 a year.  If T-Mobile acquires Sprint it would control almost 60 percent of the prepaid market, giving it the power to raise prices for prepaid services.  This could price out millions of Americans who would be left with no alternative options for wireless service.

Our democracy functions best when all Americans have access to robust and affordable wireless voice and broadband services.  These services play a crucial role in our lives and are a necessity that ensure the quality of life for millions of Americans.  There are no benefits to the public interest in a marketplace where Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are allowed to call the shots. This will only lead to fewer choices, higher prices, and widen the digital divide.

For these reasons, I urge the CPUC to reject this merger.”