Over the past year, T-Mobile and Sprint have told anyone to hear that their planned $ 26 billion merger will bring some incredible benefits to American consumers. To hear the companies say it, the industry's latest super union will result in faster speeds, a broader broadband rollout and a dramatic increase in well-paid US jobs.
But if you've seen telecom mergers go through this process before, there are many reasons to be skeptical. Consolidation tends to lead to higher prices, worsening connectivity and even more terrible customer service. The pre-merger pledges to do better are generally empty, as are consumer advocates, trade unions and many experts in the defense of competition. For Sprint and T-Mobile, the biggest new crease is the promised arrival of 5G, but that new technology is just the coverage of the same promises of better service and wider access, promises that are unstable at best .
To obtain approval from the FCC, T-Mobile promised to deploy a 5G network that will cover 97 percent of the US population. UU In three years and 99 percent of Americans in six years. "The construction of this network and the delivery of such high-speed wireless services to the vast majority of Americans would substantially benefit consumers and our country as a whole," the FCC said.
As As a result, the FCC stated this week that it would approve the agreement and insisted that the merger would be positive for American consumers. The agreement has yet to be approved by the Justice Department, which has shown increasing skepticism, but as far as FCC chief Ajit Pai is concerned, T-Mobile's promises are money in the bank.
In a statement, Pai said that T-Mobile "would suffer serious consequences" if they did not comply with this implementation commitment. "These consequences, which could include total payments to the US Treasury of billions of dollars, create a powerful incentive for companies to honor their commitments on time," Pai said.
But Gigi Sohn, an FCC lawyer under the Obama administration, told Verge's T-Mobile promises were "vague and unenforceable," and Pai was unlikely to comply.
"I have little hope that this President will fulfill any of these promises, if they are close by when they are fulfilled," Sohn said. "In almost two and a half years, the Trump FCC has not taken a single action that is contrary to the interests of the major mobile operators."
Sohn pointed out that Pai FCC did not address the location data scandals of the wireless industry. , or its failed promises after the hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico. As the fight against net neutrality made clear, Pai FCC's focus has been to prioritize the wishes of the industry, not to take responsibility for the crimes, he said.
"Even if President Pai's successor were more willing to enforce these conditions, they would certainly be subject to delaying the tactics and litigation of the & # 39; new & # 39; ; T-Mobile, "Sohn said.
Both companies have already said that they would have implemented these 5G networks anyway to keep pace with AT & T and Verizon, so the proposed merger can not take credit for its 5G deployment. Reducing the total number of competitors only reduces the competitive incentive to improve the service or invest in a wider availability.
Given the history of terrible service maps of the US government. Confirming that T-Mobile kept its promises would be an uphill climb, even for a third-party auditor. The government only has a fleeting idea of where the service is currently located, which makes it difficult to improve monitoring. Industry lobbyists have routinely fought against better mapping.
"It was universally agreed that the FCC maps are based on faulty data, and T-Mobile was surprised by claiming that its coverage in Vermont and other states was much greater than it was," says Sohn. "Therefore, we can not trust the government or T-Mobile to be precise about whether these conditions of coverage have been met or not."
There are also good reasons to think that rates would rise after the merger. In countries from Canada to Ireland, the reduction of the main wireless competitors from four to three also directly contributed to significantly higher rates for mobile data. Although T-Mobile promised the FCC it would avoid raising rates over a three-year period, that waiting period would not protect consumers in the long term, as consumer group Free Press argued in a statement shortly after Pai announced. your support. [19659016"Elsupuestocongelamientodepreciosatresañosnotienesentidoenunmercadoinalámbricodondelospreciosestáncayendoyesprobablequecontinúencayendoenausenciadeestafusión"argumentóelgrupo"LapocacompetenciaenpreciosquelagentehadisfrutadograciasalarivalidadentreSprintyT-MobilepudomantenerlospreciosmásbajosPorlotantounapromesasinsentidoeinaplicabledesolopisarelaguadondeestamosahoraesunabromatristeynadamás"
Sprint claims that would not survive without such an agreement, but regulators Justice Department have been skeptical of that claim. There are a number of other potential partners, such as Comcast and Dish Network, which could buy Sprint without eliminating a direct competitor.
The story of T-Mobile as a disruptive operator after the failed AT & T merger, not to mention its sometimes a CEO who uses profanity – seems to have convinced to some of the company's fans that this merger will be better than the innumerable other s mega agreements you have before you. But consumer advocates say it's an illusion and that the data on the costs of consolidation are very clear.