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Can You Hear Me Now? Telecom Merger Shows Antitrust Laws Have Failed

Statement of Alex Harman, Competition Policy Advocate, Public Citizen

Note: A district judge today approved the $26.5 billion merger between telecom giants T-Mobile and Sprint.

The approval of the Sprint T-Mobile merger demonstrates the complete failure of our antitrust laws.

By approving the merger of two competitors in an already highly concentrated wireless phone market, the judge has guaranteed that consumers will suffer higher prices, worse service, less choice and less innovation. Stopping the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile should have been obvious, but the Trump administration instead acted as a rubber stamp, while the court failed to interpret our antitrust laws in a way that comports with reason or common sense.

The decision rests on speculative notions of business success. Specifically, the judge claimed that T-Mobile’s marketing strategy will continue to foster competition with AT&T and Verizon, that an independent Sprint would fail as a national wireless company and that DISH will produce a national 5G wireless network – despite continually failing to enter the wireless market for more than a decade.

These beliefs are unprovable and irrelevant to the question the court should have answered: Will this merger harm competition and consumers? The obvious answer is that Americans will be worse off and at the mercy of powerful corporations that will have even less incentive to provide better service at a lower price.

The judge should have hung up the phone on this merger.