FCC Abandons Public Interest in Approval of T-Mobile-Sprint Merger

Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to approve the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile Inc. and Sprint Corporation. The approval includes a negotiated deal to sell assets to Dish Network despite the FCC never seeking public comment on this arrangement. The proposed merger still faces a legal challenge from more than fourteen state attorneys general who have filed suit to block the transaction. 

Common Cause filed a petition to deny with the FCC formally opposing the merger. The merger would reduce the number of national wireless carriers from four to three, leading to higher prices and less competition for consumers. Low-income and marginalized communities who disproportionately rely on T-Mobile and Sprint for more affordable services may also find themselves displaced from wireless access. 

Statement of Michael Copps, Former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Advisor

“The majority-FCC’s vote to approve the disastrous T-Mobile-Sprint merger is a vote to raise prices, reduce innovation, and price out millions of low-income and marginalized communities from wireless service.  All of the evidence shows that this deal is inherently illegal under antitrust law and does not meet the public interest criteria the FCC is required to follow. Rather than actually conduct a thorough public interest review of the merger, the majority at the FCC signaled it would approve the deal months ago pointing to promises and commitments made by T-Mobile and Sprint. But these promises and behavioral conditions are unenforceable and riddled with loopholes that do nothing to address the significant harms consumers would face from the merger.

“The majority-FCC’s approval of divestitures to Dish without seeking any public comment also shows a disregard for the public interest and transparency. Even with the addition of Dish, this is still a four-to-three merger where Verizon, AT&T, and a post-transaction T-Mobile will call all of the shots. A three-firm marketplace will have all of the power and incentive to raise prices, offer fewer competitive choices, and widen the digital divide.  

“Fortunately, more than fourteen state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit to block this merger. We support their legal effort and continue to mobilize opposition against this merger, which poses a significant danger to our democracy.”