NTCA Questions T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Promises

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Carolyn Just, 703-351-2015, cjust@ntca.org 

Arlington, Va., (May 20, 2019) – NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association issued the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield flagging concerns about the insufficient conditions proposed in connection with the T-Mobile-Sprint merger.

“To curry favor for its merger, New T-Mobile is now making many promises—including a blanket and baseless pledge to solve rural broadband deployment challenges. 

“T-Mobile has had sufficient spectrum and resources to deploy mobile networks in rural communities for years, but it has consistently declined or neglected to do so for even 3G or 4G services. Yet the company now promises to deliver in just a few years’ time services and technologies at a scope and scale never before seen, in rural areas that are in many cases lacking or just beginning to see the kind of fiber infrastructure necessary to realize anything remotely close to what is being promised. If we should have learned anything from previous mergers—and as Chairman Pai himself has articulated in similar contexts in the past—grandiose and arbitrary merger-related buildout pledges will not overcome the challenges of providing broadband in rural America. Rather than sweeping promises that are never achieved nor enforced, it takes real hard work, local community commitment, and resources to help make the business case for rural investment.  

“In the end, this merger is far more likely to harm than help rural consumers. Unlike T-Mobile, Sprint has been a willing partner to smaller rural providers, helping to ensure that consumers enjoy seamless mobile service across networks in rural and urban areas alike. In contrast, T-Mobile has offered no assurances that it will honor or extend current roaming or spectrum leasing agreements. The loss of this partnership will be devastating to rural wireless consumers.”