Reps. Eshoo, Long Agree T-Mobile-Sprint Should Get Approval

Veteran consolidation critic Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has joined with Republican Billy Long (R-Mo.) and almost a dozen other House members in support of the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

In a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai and Department of Justice antitrust chief Makan Delrahim, they echoed the two companies talking points on why the deal is pro-competitive, pro-jobs and pro-5G, saying that they believed the merger would "transform the wireless industry, drive innovation, help close the digital divide, and provide consumers with more choices at lower costs."

At a House Communications Subcommittee hearing on the deal Wednesday (Feb. 13), Eshoo asked no questions, instead using her time to make those points, essentially signaling she agreed with T-Mobile CEO John Legere that what the deal would do was provide a stronger competitor to the duopoly of AT&T and Verizon, which together have the majority of wireless subs.

Eshoo, Long and others also point to the combination of spectrum assets of the two companies to deliver a more robust 5G network than either could do alone, another major argument offered up by both companies.

Most Democrats at the hearing expressed concerns that the merger would reduce the major competitors in the space from four to three. pointing to calculations that the deal would exceed guidelines for market concentration that triggers red flags.

Republicans countered that the marketplace had changed and that the government needed to take a holistic view rather than simply intervene to keep four carriers by imposing artificial market constraints.

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.