INCOMPAS Opposes T-Mobile-Sprint Merger

INCOMPAS, which represents competitive carriers and some edge providers, has come out against the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.

That comes on the even of the first of two Hill hearings on the proposed deal.

The trade group points out that Sprint was a founding member and T-Mobile has been a member as well (it is not now), but that did not stop INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering from taking aim at the merger between their "friends" in a blog post.

"As currently proposed, the merger threatens to undercut the competitive wireless ecosystem that has been the shining star for competition and choice," said Pickering. "T-Mobile and Sprint are asking policymakers to bless the marriage of the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless providers. After careful consideration, if the minister were to ask if anyone objects to this union as presented, my hand would have to go up."

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T-Mobile has said the merger will not end its maverick days and ways, but instead make it a more formidable outside-the-box competitor. But Pickering doesn't see it that way.

“The fight for more competition is a real fight. It’s one we must win, or the 5G future will be nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Building 5G networks should create competition and jobs for hundreds of US companies, not just large wireless providers," he wrote. "T-Mobile and Sprint have been important soldiers in these battles for more competition, and while I understand their desire to wed, I believe consumers want them to keep playing the field.”

Pickering says it is all about wholesale. While T-Mobile has promised not to raise legacy rates to customers for three years (with some caveat), Pickering says that does not stop it from raising wholesale prices for resellers, like its competitive carrier members.

"[T]his means customers who choose not to use T-Mo/Sprint, and go with another service provider, could actually be paying for this merger, he said. "That’s not right."

He also points to what he says is the lack of commitment by the companies to continue to work with MVNOs or honor roaming contracts past current deadlines.

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.