FCC Chair Says T-Mobile Sprint Merger Good for Rural Americans | Citizens Against Government Waste

FCC Chair Says T-Mobile Sprint Merger Good for Rural Americans

The WasteWatcher

On May 20, 2019, T-Mobile US, Inc. and Sprint Corporation filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which demonstrated the companies’ commitment to serving rural Americans should their merger be approved.  These commitments were quickly followed by announcements from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr that with these additional commitments and the divesture of T-Mobile’s Boost Prepaid plan, they believe the merger to be in the public interest.

Expanding broadband into rural communities is essential to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural communities, and this is particularly critical as new fifth generation (5G) networks are deployed nationwide.  The use of low-band, mid-band, and high-band spectrum are all necessary to ensure continuous 5G coverage across the country, and mid-band spectrum is particularly essential for the deployment of 5G to rural communities.  The merger between T-Mobile and Sprint will enable the new company to leverage spectrum licenses held by the two companies to help bridge this digital divide without relying on federal subsidies or loans.  That’s great news for taxpayers.

According to the letter released by the companies on May 20, 2019, the New T-Mobile plans to invest $40 billion within three years of the merger closing to deploy a nationwide 5G network and next-generation services, including mobile broadband services to “millions of unserved and underserved rural Americans.”  The merged company proposes to expand outdoor 5G coverage to 59.4 million rural residents and indoor 5G coverage to 31 million rural residents.  The filing includes a detailed network build schedule and firm commitments to provide minimum speeds of 25 Mbps downlink and 3 Mbps uplink; with average speeds above 100 Mbps downlink, verified by nationwide drive tests. 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai noted that, “This is a unique opportunity to speed up the deployment of 5G throughout the United States and bring much faster mobile broadband to rural Americans.”  FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr stated that, “The proposed transaction will strengthen competition in the U.S. wireless market and provide mobile and in-home broadband access to communities that demand better coverage and more choices.”

With the commitments made to improve mobile and broadband coverage to rural America, the FCC and the Department of Justice should quickly complete their reviews and approve the merger, which will enable increased 5G network deployments.   

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