FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2019
Contact: Robert Cruickshank, Campaign Director, (831) 402-2365, [email protected]
Demand Progress will join community groups and key stakeholders in downtown Los Angeles tonight to testify against the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. The California Public Utilities Commission is taking public comment on the deal that would combine two of the nation’s largest mobile carriers into one behemoth.
CPUC Public Forum on Proposed Sprint and T-Mobile Merger
When: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 7:00 PM
Where: Junipero Serra State Building, Carmel Room (Auditorium), 320 W. 4th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
“Over the past decade, the wireless industry has aggressively consolidated, leaving consumers with only four choices for national cell phone providers. Sprint and T-Mobile have both carved out a niche in the marketplace by providing lower cost plans, shorter contracts, and other consumer-friendly practices, compared to their rivals AT&T and Verizon,” said Tihi Hayslett of Demand Progress, who will attend tonight’s hearing and plans to testify. “Sprint and T-Mobile compete directly with each other for the same market share, which results in higher quality plans and lower costs for their customers, many of whom are low-income and people of color. A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would disproportionately and negatively impact these consumers, and lead to higher prices for all wireless customers. We are calling on the Commission to use their power to oppose Sprint and T-Mobile’s request to merge.”
Demand Progress will be delivering signatures on a petition urging the CPUC to oppose the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. Demand Progress has also organized tens of thousands of people to submit public comments to the Federal Communications Commission urging the FCC to block the merger.
If Sprint and T-Mobile merge, the US would have only three national wireless carriers with roughly the same market share, making it very likely they would stop competing head-to-head for customers, according to the American Antitrust Institute. That means higher prices, lower quality plans, and worse customer service for everybody.
This merger is also a terrible deal for communities of color and low-income consumers. People of color make up over half of T-Mobile’s customers, and nearly half of Sprint’s. Even greater numbers of their pre-paid cell phone brands’ (MetroPCS and Boost) are people of color. By comparison, only 35% and 27% of AT&T and Verizon’s customers respectively are people of color.
T-Mobile shook up the wireless industry when it introduced consumer-friendly policies like no annual contracts and no roaming charges, and Sprint has the cheapest plans of any of the national wireless carriers.
Unsurprisingly, T-Mobile is the most popular wireless provider for people with income under $75,000/year. 83% of customers of Sprint’s Boost pre-paid plan are also in that income range. One-third of MetroPCS and Boost Mobile’s customers have incomes of less than $25,000/year. Of all the carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint’s customer base is the least able to afford higher prices.
Finally, a Sprint/T-Mobile merger will cost thousands of jobs. According to the Communications Workers of America, the union that represents wireless and telecommunications workers, 28,000 people will lose their jobs as a result of this merger, including 4,500 at the companies’ respective headquarters.