Computer Companies Seek Thorough Review of T-Mobile-Sprint Deal

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents computer and edge companies, has called for a "thorough review" of the proposed combination of T-Mobile and Sprint, and obviously has some potential concerns, but suggested the deal could be good for competition.

That finessed approach is likely because both T-Mobile and Sprint are also members of CCIA. The same finessing was signaled by the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), whose members also include Sprint and T-Mobile.

The two wireless companies announced Sunday (April 29) that they had struck a deal to merge.

CCIA, whose members also include Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, suggested the combination could help a pair of innovators better compete against "two powerful companies [that] have dominated much of the mobile phone market; that would be former Bells Verizon and AT&T."

Related: D.C. Eyes Meld of Sprint/T-Mobile

But CCIA signaled the jury was not in on whether combining the number three and four company in the space would create a more or less competitive market.

“Thankfully in recent years both Sprint and T-Mobile have improved the market by offering innovative and alternative mobile phone deals to consumers," said CCIA president Ed Black. "This competition has served consumers well, and the key question which must be addressed is whether this merger will result in a more or less competitive market and allow consumers better choices. It is thus very important that an in depth review of this merger be undertaken by the appropriate government agencies.

“While the combination of the third and fourth largest companies should be expected to receive great scrutiny, historical, unique, and important aspects of this market make such review imperative," Black added. "Whether the merger will result in a market with a stronger third company continuing to put competitive pressure on its two large rivals or a less dynamic market, the merger proposal will need to be the focus of analysis. Along with the regulators we look forward to seeing more details about the proposal in the coming months, and expect to review the justifications and arguments pro and con with great care.”

Another group having to balance competing interests, literally, is CCA, which was taking an every member for themselves approach, though it signaled it, too, might take a stand as an association.“We are at beginning of the merger process and the various government agencies will focus on the challenges, advantages and benefits of a combined entity for the American consumers in rural and urban areas alike," the group said. "Each CCA member will decide what is in its own best interest. CCA also will evaluate the challenges and benefits of the potential merger and will seek input from our collective membership. Sprint and T-Mobile are competitive carriers and also CCA members because they share many of the policy goals and complementary relationships with smaller carriers. These relationships will inform the individual member positions regarding the potential merger.  It would be wise not to prejudge this transaction until we have more details.  We look forward to learning more as the process unfolds."

John Eggerton

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.