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Posts Tagged ‘T-Mobile’
April 22nd, 2019 at 1:09 pm
WSJ Urges Regulators to Approve T-Mobile/Sprint Merger
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We at CFIF have steadfastly highlighted the consumer benefits of the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger, and cautioned the federal government against any pointless and destructive objection to the deal.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, its editorial board encourages the Department of Justice (DOJ) to move forward on the deal:

The Justice Department lost its lawsuit to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner.  Yet now the antitrust cops are holding up T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint even though it could give AT&T more competition in wireless.  What gives?

A year ago, T-Mobile announced plans to acquire Sprint for $26 billion in stock, yet the merger is still stuck in government antitrust purgatory.  The Federal Communications Commission keeps pausing its 180-day shot clock on the merger review to let staff and third parties dig through documents to trash the deal.”

The piece goes on to neatly summarize the benefits the merger would bring:

With more than 100 million customers, the new T-Mobile would be a stronger competitor to Verizon Wireless (118 million) and AT&T (94 million).  It would also offer a broader mix of spectrum that would improve service.  T-Mobile boasts low-band spectrum that increases coverage in rural areas.  Sprint is sitting on mid-band spectrum that can transmit more data at higher speeds in urban areas.”

Simply put, it’s time for regulators to approve the merger to release the fruits that it promises.

February 7th, 2019 at 7:20 am
Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Already Bearing Fruit
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For months since its announcement, CFIF has enthusiastically supported the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger, based upon the myriad benefits that it offers the American economy and consumers.

Among those benefits, lower consumer prices stand among the most prominent.  Well, that prospective benefit is already coming to fruition.

Specifically, in a letter this week to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere committed to maintaining “the same or better rate plans” for the next three years as the merger occurs:

Critics of our merger … have principally argued that we are going to raise rates right after the merger closes.  I want to reiterate, unequivocally, that New T-Mobile rates are NOT going to go up.  Rather, our merger will ensure that American consumers will pay less and get more…                   

If we broke faith by raising rates and cutting back benefits, we would lose our loyal customers and destroy the future of our brand.  I want to assure you that we would never do this.  My management team and I can make this personal commitment because we believe in delivering on our promises, and we k now if we do not, we will lose credibility and the trust of our customers.  Our business plan and our future success are centered around building a world class 5G network for everyone and delivering more to consumers for less.                     

To remove any remaining doubt or concerns about New T-Mobile’s prices while we are combining our networks over the next three years, T-Mobile today is submitting to the Commission a commitment that I stand behind – a commitment that New T-Mobile will make available the same or better rate plans for our services as those offered today by T-Mobile or Sprint.  We believe this merger makes consumers better off, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is.  Period.

Of course, that’s not the only benefit to the American economy and consumer marketplace, as we’ve detailed.

Among other important improvements, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger would add another major competitor to the existing marketplace, and combine their current differing but complimentary assets.  The result will be more jobs, faster wireless, quicker transition to 5G technology in America, more choices for consumers, greater private telecommunications investment and all of the consequent innovation that market competition entails.

Nevertheless, the fact that the benefits to American consumers in terms of pricing are already arriving confirms the soundness of this proposed merger.

It’s certainly something for the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees must acknowledge at their joint hearing next week.  The alternative to a T-Mobile/Sprint merger is less investment, fewer jobs, less market competition, more harmful government intervention into the economy, slower 5G deployment and one fewer competitive market participant.

That’s simply an unacceptable and indefensible alternative.

February 1st, 2019 at 3:21 pm
Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Would Be a Win for American Consumers
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On February 13, the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees will hold an important joint hearing on the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger that promises greater innovation, more jobs, more private telecommunications investment, increased market competition, faster wireless and greater choice for consumers as America proceeds toward our much-anticipated 5G technological rollout.

Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D – New Jersey), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D – New York), Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D – Pennsylvania) and Antitrust, Commercial & Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D – Rhode Island) state in their joint announcement that, “We look forward to examining this merger from the perspective of what is in the best interest of consumers and hardworking people.”

Well, the answer to that question is clear.

Compared to the current telecommunications marketplace, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will mean an enhanced array of consumer services.  Sprint and T-Mobile currently possess differing but symbiotic assets, rather than overlapping ones that might otherwise simply mean a bigger company instead of two smaller (and less competitive) ones.  As a result, the new entity would create a new network with broader nationwide coverage, capacity improvements and improved wireless performance for customers compared to what American consumers currently enjoy.  As has been exhaustively demonstrated by CFIF and others, the proposed merger also promises lower costs for consumers, new jobs and necessary network upgrades.

In particular, the proposed merger offers significant potential benefits through deployment of the first 5G wireless network in the U.S., as CFIF has noted:

With an anticipated $40 billion investment in 5G, consumers will enjoy data delivery at a lower cost, and the incentive for competitors to similarly lower prices to consumers.  That will also prompt market competition to expand spectrum in rural areas in addition to urban centers, as well as capacity improvements for consumers.           

That’s how market competition works.  A T-Mobile/Sprint merger and its 5G deployment would also mean billions in new private infrastructure investment and countless new jobs.  In contrast, the absence of a T-Mobile/Sprint merger would mean slower deployment of a 5G nationwide network, and the absence of a market competitor of greater scale.  Ultimately that means consumers would lose.

There is simply no point in needless delay or contentiousness when the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees convene on February 13.  The proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger offers only benefits to American consumers compared to the existing status quo.  The Committees must recognize that reality, lest we pay an unnecessary price in terms of slower 5G, fewer consumer choices, fewer jobs, less investment and less market competition.

 

June 13th, 2018 at 3:01 pm
In Good News for Consumers, Federal Judge Rejects DOJ Attempt to Block AT&T/Time Warner Merger
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In a decision that came as no surprise but nevertheless merits celebration, a federal judge yesterday rejected the Justice Department’s needless lawsuit attempting to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.

Whenever federal bureaucracies seek to disrupt functioning markets by prohibiting mutual agreements between two willing parties, they carry a heavy burden of proof to establish impending consumer harm.  In this case, the opposite was true – the federal government’s needless interference, not the proposed acquisition, would result in consumer harm.  Accordingly, Judge Richard Leon ruled that Justice’s allegations “do not come close to answering the question before the Court.”

So why is yesterday’s ruling important going forward?  Hopefully, it provides federal bureaucrats an abject lesson against future destructive campaigns of a similar sort.

As one immediate example, consider the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint announced recently.  Although the T-Mobile/Sprint proposal involves characteristics unique to it, it offers the consumer market similar sorts of benefits.

Namely, T-Mobile/Sprint prospectively offers an enhanced array of consumer services in comparison to what is available today.  For example, the two current companies’ differing but complementary assets would create a new network with enhanced capacity, wider coverage and more effective wireless performance for customers than currently exists.  It also promises network upgrades, lower prices and job creation.  In particular, the proposed merger offers significant potential benefits through deployment of the first 5G wireless network in the U.S.

Through that $40 billion investment in 5G, consumers will enjoy data delivery at a lower cost, and the incentive for competitors to similarly lower prices to consumers.  That will also prompt market competition to expand spectrum in rural areas in addition to urban centers, as well as capacity improvements for consumers.

That’s how market competition works.  A T-Mobile/Sprint merger and its 5G deployment would also mean billions in new private infrastructure investment and countless new jobs.  In contrast, the absence of a T-Mobile/Sprint merger would mean slower deployment of a 5G nationwide network, and the absence of a market competitor of greater scale.  Ultimately, that means consumers would lose.

The Trump Administration has demonstrated to date how deregulation can turbocharge the economy and benefit American consumers.  That logic applies with added potency to the ever-evolving telecommunications market, and the Justice Department should learn its lesson and refrain from future needless interference that will only cost consumers and trigger embarrassing legal defeats.

June 30th, 2015 at 2:10 pm
Two-Face T-Mobile 2.0
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We recently described how T-Mobile was playing crony capitalist DC games and talking out of both sides of its mouth.  On one side, it told Wall Street that it’s in a great position.  On the other side, it pleaded with federal regulators in DC that it needs their help in order to remain competitive in the wireless marketplace.

The company CEO, whom The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins labeled “Potty-Mouth” Legere, is now doubling down on the company’s “Little Sisters of the Poor” message to DC and calling for a larger set-aside in the upcoming spectrum incentive auction.  The Obama Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already promised to set aside 30 MHz, but that just wasn’t enough for T-Mobile.  Now Mr. Legere and the Save Wireless Choice coalition – which conspicuously counts T-Mobile, Sprint, and DISH as members – are pushing for at least 40 MHz.

That set-aside proposal is a bad idea for several reasons.  First, T-Mobile wants the FCC to make it easier for it to get spectrum at below-market value without competing against AT&T and Verizon.  There’s no reason, however, to believe that T-Mobile can’t compete in a fair and open auction without federal bureaucrats tipping the scales in their favor.  Moreover, even if money were an issue, couldn’t T-Mobile’s multi-billion dollar parent company, Deutsche Telekom, come to its aid?

Consider the straightforward numbers:  Deutsche Telekom, a German company with a market cap over €70 billion, is a 66% stakeholder in T-Mobile.  Additionally, the German government maintains approximately a 1/3 stake in Deutsche Telekom.  Accordingly, offering T-Mobile an unjustified advantage translates into a giveaway to a foreign company and a foreign government.

But what about American consumers?  The set-aside could drive down auction revenue, which in turn means less money for the U.S. Treasury and less spectrum that’s sold and brought to market for the benefit of U.S. consumers.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently said that he thinks the set-aside should remain at 30 MHz and NOT get increased.  That’s a rare bit of moderately positive news, but if the FCC is really reviewing the set-aside in advance of its July 16th open meeting, it should eliminate this cronyist monstrosity entirely, and send Mr. Legere and his tin can packing.

May 13th, 2015 at 8:03 pm
The Two Faces of T-Mobile

The recent release of the Apple Watch was a momentous occasion that has become routine for American consumers: another breakthrough mobile product hitting the marketplace. Whether new devices or continuous improvements to smartphones and other devices on which we all rely, almost all of us use gadgets that just ten years ago would have been considered science fiction.

Less well known to consumers is the technical foundation of the entire ecosystem upon which such devises operate. Specifically, wireless spectrum is the invisible infrastructure that carries data between devices and to the broader Internet. Wireless companies compete fiercely for this resource so that they can provide good service for their customers.
 
That’s why – despite the fact that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is auctioning off coveted broadcast spectrum next year, an eternity in tech terms – the jockeying between potential bidders has already started. Two of the major players in particular, Sprint and T-Mobile, have been ceaselessly calling for the FCC to create auction rules that benefit them at the expense of their competitors. Their latest request is for a larger set-aside to limit the amount of spectrum on which competitors AT&T and Verizon can bid. 

This isn’t the first time the two companies have made such a request.  The FCC didn’t accept it last time, and it shouldn’t now as the only change is that Sprint and T-Mobile now are pushing their shared agenda through the recently (and conveniently) formed “Save Wireless Choice” coalition.

This is a terrible idea for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Sprint and T-Mobile are dynamic companies that compete fiercely in the wireless industry. Don’t just take our word for it. On a recent call with Wall Street analysts, T-Mobile CEO John Legere bragged that T-Mobile has “a great spectrum portfolio. That’s allowed us to be smart and opportunistic,” and claimed that the company was “off to an incredible start to 2015 with the best customer growth in the industry fueled by disruptive Un-carrier moves and the network that continues to be America’s fastest.”  Similarly, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure asserted that he “couldn’t be more confident that now [Sprint has] the right plan to be successful” and acknowledged Sprint’s “rich spectrum portfolio.”
 
Legere and Claure’s comments to Wall Street make their plea to the FCC – that they cannot compete with AT&T and Verizon in the upcoming auction or in the industry long-term – completely disingenuous. Furthermore, Sprint chose to sit out of the recent AWS-3 auction, and it was DISH, not AT&T or Verizon, that outbid T-Mobile most on licenses it sought but didn’t win.
 
Indeed, it was DISH’s shady dealings during the AWS-3 auction that demonstrate the danger of rules that favor certain players over others in the marketplace. DISH used shell companies to take advantage of the FCC’s Designated Entity program, a program that is supposed to help small companies buy spectrum by giving them a discount.  That sleight of hand with DISH will cost taxpayers a stunning $3.3 billion unless the FCC investigates and rejects the taxpayer-funded discount.
 
At the end of the day, Sprint and T-Mobile are massive, competitive companies backed by large, foreign corporations, Softbank and Deutsch Telekom. Even if that were not the case, the recent experience with DISH should be a giant red flag about the unintended consequences of rules that favor certain companies.
 
In order for consumers to continue reaping the benefits of the wireless revolution, they need more spectrum to be allocated in the most efficient way possible. In the 2016 incentive auction, that means straightforward rules that treat all bidders equally. This principle has taken us to where we are right now, and it would be a mistake to jeopardize this progress by giving in to the self-serving pleading of two companies.

June 11th, 2012 at 1:59 pm
Coalition to FCC: Approve Verizon/SpectrumCo Deal Now

In a letter delivered on Friday, a coalition of 14 free market organizations, including the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”), urged the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to approve a private deal between Verizon and cable companies that will free currently unused spectrum to help alleviate the growing “spectrum crunch” that many wireless consumers – particularly those in densely populated areas of the country – are already feeling.

The letter, which was organized by ATR’s Digital Liberty, reads in part:

Demand for wireless broadband is more than doubling annually, but vast swaths of valuable spectrum – the lifeblood of mobile communications – remain unavailable to wireless carriers. Consumers in densely populated urban areas are already suffering from inadequate wireless capacity. While meeting this robust demand will require wireless carriers to adopt an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach, increasing spectrum availability is unquestionably the most fundamental and cost-effective means to meet wireless demand.

Unfortunately, spectrum auctions that will enable wireless carriers to bid on additional spectrum remain years away. Verizon Wireless’s proposed transfer presents a rare and crucial opportunity to deploy currently unused spectrum for wireless broadband. The spectrum at issue is ideally situated in the 1700/2100 MHz AWS bands, covering over 80 percent of the U.S. population (259 million POPs). Consumers will see substantial net benefits from expanded coverage enabled by additional spectrum, especially compared to more costly and time-consuming undertakings such as cell splitting.

With demand for wireless broadband more than doubling annually, the FCC’s own estimates predict that demand for wireless spectrum will exceed supply in 2013.  Yet Obama’s FCC has done little if anything at all to make additional and much-needed spectrum available to wireless network operators. 

In fact, under the Obama Administration the FCC has worked to delay and outright block private-sector deals to alleviate the growing spectrum crunch.  Last year, the FCC took unprecedented steps to block the then-pending AT&T-T-Mobile merger, going so far as to publicly release a biased draft staff report in opposition to the merger that the commissioners themselves never approved and quite  possibly didn’t even read.  Had that merger been approved, AT&T was promising to deploy high-speed mobile broadband to 95 percent of all Americans.  And the FCC has been over-scrutinizing and slow-walking approval of the Verizon-SpectrumCo deal since December.

Read the full coalition letter to the FCC here.

April 13th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
T-Mobile, Victim of Abusive FCC Last Year, Now Asks FCC to Cripple a Market Competitor
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Just months ago, T-Mobile became another unjustified casualty of the arbitrary and capricious Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  It was bad enough that the FCC curiously opposed T-Mobile’s proposed merger with AT&T, which would have upgraded wireless service for tens of millions of American consumers and created thousands of new jobs.  Compounding that injustice, however, the FCC committed the unprecedented transgression of releasing a confidential staff report that inaccurately maligned the proposed merger’s justifications.

Sadly, T-Mobile now seeks to employ that same FCC as a bureaucratic bludgeon to cripple a market competitor, by asking it to block a private spectrum purchase by Verizon Wireless.   Whereas T-Mobile announced a few months ago that, “The U.S. wireless industry will remain fiercely competitive”  by allowing acquisition of 50 MHz of T-Mobile’s spectrum as part of the AT&T deal, it now claims that Verizon’s proposed acquisition of 20 MHz of unused spectrum will somehow “unduly tip the scales” in Verizon’s favor.  Moreover, T-Mobile itself seeks to acquire 20 MHz of spectrum, which it claims is in the public interest and “seeks only to assign spectrum licenses and no other assets.”

CFIF supported T-Mobile’s right to enter into a bargained-for exchange between private parties during its proposed merger with AT&T, which the FCC and Obama Justice Department improperly blocked.  But by the same token, it should not turn around and attempt to interfere with other parties’ market transactions.  T-Mobile is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom, the world’s fourth-largest telecommunications company, which itself is partly owned by the German government.  So it’s not exactly David fighting Goliath, unable to contend in the marketplace without exploiting the FCC as some sort of protective big brother.

Verizon Wireless merely seeks to purchase unused spectrum, which will bring desperately-needed wireless service improvements for U.S. consumers.  That’s none of T-Mobile’s business, and the FCC is not some sort of instrument to be used as a competitive weapon.

December 1st, 2011 at 5:48 pm
FCC Malfeasance on AT&T/T-Mobile Merger Threatens American Jobs, Breaks with Established Protocol
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So federal bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), those known master micromanagers of the American economy, concluded in their wisdom to oppose the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, two independent, free, private parties.  Along the way, the FCC went to the improper and unprecedented extreme of releasing a staff report gratuitously and inaccurately critiquing the justifications offered for the merger.  Again, we’re talking about a merger between two consenting, informed parties.  We’re also talking about a merger application that was voluntarily withdrawn by the parties.  Yet the FCC, for reasons still unexplained, broke with decades of administrative protocol and published the staff report.

Remember, this is the same supposedly omnipotent federal government that managed the housing market so well in recent decades through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not to mention the splendid business acumen it displayed in the energy sector with such examples as Solyndra.  And it’s the same FCC that incompetently attempted to commandeer Internet service through so-called “Net Neutrality,” which earned it a unanimous rebuke from the D.C. Court of Appeals and Congress.

Turning its eye toward the telecommunications industry, the FCC decided in its considered expertise that the AT&T/T-Mobile merger was not in the best interests of the American people.  As one particularly curious example, the FCC staff report claims that the proposed merger would cause job losses.  One would think that federal regulators would be more circumspect in asserting job projections in light of the slow-motion “stimulus” disaster that was supposed to cap unemployment at 8% in October 2009.  Instead, unemployment stands at 9% and has exceeded 8% for a record number of months.  Moreover, if the merger was a likely job-killer, why would even the Communication Workers of America (CWA) labor union support it?  The FCC asks us to believe that the labor union most impacted by the proposed merger would somehow seek fewer dues-paying members?

Moreover, the FCC itself within the past month claimed that its own $4.5 billion fund to deploy wireline broadband to just 7 million Americans would create “500,000 jobs and $50 billion in economic growth.”  Yet it now contradicts itself by claiming the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger, which would deploy broadband service to the far greater number of 55 million Americans, would somehow destroy jobs?  In other words, the FCC seems to think that smaller amounts of government spending to bring broadband to a smaller number of people will create jobs, but much larger amounts of private investment to bring broadband to a much greater number of people will not.

Federal bureaucrats are unequipped to micromanage the telecom industry, just as they’re incompetent to tell Boeing (America’s top exporter) where it can and cannot operate manufacturing plants.  It’s yet another example that the FCC is out of control, and threatening American jobs by its malfeasance.

August 31st, 2011 at 4:51 pm
Obama Administration Sues to Block AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Killing Jobs By Suing Those Who Create Them
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This defines cognitive dissonance.  The Obama Administration continues to scratch its collective head, wondering why its record deficit spending “stimulus” and big government onslaught has failed to create jobs.  Meanwhile, its own Department of Justice sues an iconic American company that creates them.

Just today, AT&T announced that it is relocating thousands of jobs from overseas back to American shores.  But also today, the Obama Department of Justice – you know, the one ultimately behind the disastrous “Operation Fast and Furious” – sued to block the proposed private merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.  Ponder that irony for a moment.  The Obama Administration, which has done so much to interfere with job creation since the recession officially ended all the way back in June 2009, is suing an employer that at this very moment is orchestrating the return of thousands of jobs to the United States.

Perhaps we shouldn’t find this surprising.  After all, the Obama Administration is also in the process of persecuting Boeing, America’s largest exporter, simply for electing to locate a manufacturing plant in South Carolina.  But that doesn’t make its behavior any less despicable or destructive.  If Obama truly wants to prove to the electorate that he seeks economic recovery, he must reverse this policy course within his administration.  Immediately.