- Fourteen organizations are calling on Congressional Democrats to hold hearings on the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile when Congress convenes in January. The groups penned a letter addressed to Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York, the highest ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
- The groups say a hearing would be an opportunity to probe the merger’s impact on competition in the wireless industry, its impact on workers and whether it will impact consumer prices.
- The 14 signatories are: the American Antitrust Institute, the Center for Media Justice, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Consumer Reports, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, The Greenlining Institute, the National Consumer Law Center, New America's Open Technology Institute, Open Markets Institute, Public Knowledge, the Rural Wireless Association, and the Writers Guild of America West.
The concerned organizations highlight public statements from Nadler and Pallone raising concerns about the proposed merger, which would reduce the number of major wireless carriers in the U.S. from four to three. Pallone said in an April letter with other Democrats that the merger "would create a new wireless behemoth," with questions about the competitiveness of the industry.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing with executives from T-Mobile and Sprint in June, but the House has not held any hearings of its own.
A major selling point of the merger has been the potential to put the two firms’ combined resources behind a massive 5G push. In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the companies say their 5G collaboration "would leapfrog Verizon and AT&T's networks," delivering faster data speeds to consumers without jacking up the cost. The companies also said they could expand broadband coverage in some rural areas, a key priority for the administration and some lawmakers.
While the House would have natural questions about the impact of the major business decision, a hearing could also raise concerns from the industry that has asked for the government to ease up to allow 5G to flourish. Any attempts to delay or halt the merger would be subject to accusations that the government is standing in the way of technology improvements.