Altice: FCC Needs to Protect Sprint MVNO

Altice USA has petitioned the FCC to either block or condition the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

Altice currently has a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) partnership with Sprint and says it is concerned that T-Mobile may not support its MVNO or extend it to the full New T-Mobile network once the companies combine.

An MVNO with a wireless carrier is how some wired broadband/video providers are going mobile, tapping into existing wireless infrastructure. 

Altice says T-Mobile has been hostile to MVNOs and cable operators getting into the wireless market, which it suggests does not bode well for its fate under the merged company. 

If the FCC does not block the merger outright, it says, the FCC must hold the combined company to the following:

(1) committing to honor and diligently implement existing MVNO agreements, including good faith finalization of any future requirements in those agreements, 

(2) committing to offer existing MVNO partners, for the full term of existing agreements, or for ten (10) years post consummation, whichever occurs later, the best wholesale terms and conditions that are offered individually by each of the Applicants to their MVNO partners, with a presumption of long term renewals and, if requested, offering the improved nationwide coverage and service offerings of the New T-Mobile to all existing MVNO partners of the Applicants; 

(3) divesting spectrum that exceeds the spectrum screen, and associated network infrastructure, in order to make those assets available to MVNOs, and smaller wireless players that need spectrum to enable nationwide mobile deployments and wireless competition; provided, however, that any divestiture partner(s) cannot be under common ownership or control with AT&T, Verizon or the New T-Mobile; 

(4) filing detailed quarterly reports with the Commission describing New T-Mobile’s status in implementing these commitments for ten (10) years post-consummation.

Without those commitments, Altice said, the merger should be denied given the new company's "every incentive to expand its own market power by refusing to offer reasonable, nationwide, wholesale wireless terms to its MVNO partners."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.