T-Mobile seeks MVNO support for $26 bn merger with Sprint

T-Mobile US has asked smaller wireless operators (MVNOs), which use its telecom network, to issue public statements or write newspaper editorials to influence antitrust regulators to approve its $26 billion acquisition of Sprint, Reuters reported.
Sprint and T-Mobile merger
One of the MVNOs that work with T-Mobile said it received an email with suggestions on how to support the deal.

The email from T-Mobile suggested the company write an op-ed supportive of the deal or submit a letter of support to regulators. The email also offered talking points the company could use during media interviews, such as how the merger between the No. 3 and 4 U.S. carriers would help the build-out of a 5G network.

John Marick, chief executive of Consumer Cellular, a wireless company that sells phone plans and devices to people over the age of 50, said he received an email from T-Mobile asking if he was willing to submit a comment to the FCC. Consumer Cellular operates off of T-Mobile and AT&T’s network.

Marick said he has not yet submitted a comment and is not opposed to doing so, adding he did not view the email as pressure to issue a comment.

T-Mobile is majority-owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, while Sprint is majority-owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group. Both companies have previously said they expect the deal to win regulatory approval.

Consumer Cellular and other smaller wireless companies operate by purchasing access to the four major U.S. carriers’ networks at wholesale rates, and often market their phone plans to specific users, such as low-income groups or minorities.

The Barack Obama administration had previously taken actions to keep four wireless carriers in the United States to ensure enough competition.

T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that they need to combine their business operations to build a strong 5G network.

The proposed merger, under review by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DoJ), would shrink the wireless market to three big players from four.

The FCC is collecting public comments and formal petitions to oppose the deal until August 27. US Department of Justice is soliciting opinions of the deal from mobile virtual network operators.

Opponents of the merger argue it could raise prices for the wireless companies whose customers use T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks. Both AT&T and Verizon did not reveal their opinion about the merger.

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