The Rural Wireless Association, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, Communications Workers of America, and three consumer groups called on Congress to ensure that T-Mobile does not receive COVID-19 recovery funding to meet its merger-specific build-out commitments. T-Mobile made those promises when it sought approval of its acquisition of Sprint from the FCC, Department of Justice, state attorneys general, and state public utilities commissions.
“The New T-Mobile has repeatedly and emphatically claimed that as a direct result of the merger, it would have the necessary resources to deliver 5G to millions of square miles of the U.S. and hundreds of millions of Americans, including those living in and traveling through rural America,” the groups say in a letter. “[T]o the extent there will be additional stimulus recovery measures, Congress needs to make sure T-Mobile does not receive funding as a corporate handout to meet commitments it already made based on synergies that it lauded to get its deal done.”
The groups also point out that the FCC specified that its decision to approve the merger “would be conditioned on the network build out commitments of the licensees to provide 5G service to a large portion of the U.S. population, including rural areas.”
“Even amid the COVID-19 crisis and resulting global economic turmoil, T-Mobile acknowledges that the synergies it gains with the Sprint merger means that it does not need any type of economic assistance from the U.S. government. RWA has come to the same conclusion and urges Congress to allow this new behemoth to stand on its own without government support,” said RWA General Counsel Carri Bennet.
For nearly two years, T-Mobile argued that as soon as it could join forces with Sprint, it would be in a position to compete effectively against AT&T, Verizon, and other telecom and cable industry giants by offering numerous “compelling public interest benefits” to America’s broadband consumers, said the groups in the letter.
New T-Mobile made the following merger-specific buildout commitments to expand coverage and increase download speeds to rural America:
- New T-Mobile will offer download speeds of 25 Mbps or more to 84 percent of America’s rural POPs by 2024.
- New T-Mobile will offer download speeds of 25 Mbps or more to 4 million square miles of rural America by 2024.
- New T-Mobile will offer “outdoor” coverage to 99 percent of America’s rural POPs by 2024.
- New T-Mobile will bring 5G to at least 99 percent of the U.S. population receiving download speeds of 50 Mbps or more by April 1, 2026.
- New T-Mobile will bring 5G to at least 90 percent of the U.S. population receiving download speeds of 100 Mbps or more by April 1, 2026.