FCC formally approves T-Mobile and Sprint merger

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2019
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally approved a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, the final regulatory step toward the creation of a new mobile carrier expected to rival an existing duopoly held by Verizon and AT&T.

T-Mobile


Today's FCC filing, issued as a "Memorandum Opinion and Order, Declaratory Ruling, and Order of Proposed Modification," PDF link greenlights transfer of control applications and was the last regulatory hurdle to creating a new carrier dubbed "New T-Mobile." Approval from the U.S. Department of Justice was obtained in July.

The two companies now face a group of state attorneys general who have sued to derail the agreement.

FCC commissioners approved the $26.5 billion deal in a vote last month that was drawn largely along party lines. The FCC's Republican majority, which voted for the merger, lauded the deal in statements issued following the formal announcement of its approval on Tuesday, reports CNN.

"The transaction will help secure United States leadership in 5G, close the digital divide in rural America, and enhance competition in the broadband market," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Tempering Republican zeal was Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats to dissent who warned the joining of America's third- and fourth-largest mobile carriers could mark the end of "a golden age in wireless."

To help garner FCC and DOJ approval, T-Mobile offered a number of concessions including promises to spin off Sprint subsidiary Boost Mobile. More importantly, Dish Network, which is primed to become the nation's fourth wireless provider, will net wireless spectrum, some 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of stores as part of the arrangement.

The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

"I have little confidence that these commitments will protect competition and result in deployment of 5G services beyond what might have occurred in the absence of a merger," Starks said.

T-Mobile and Sprint first announced the $26 billion merger in 2018, proposing a single combined carrier capable of competing against industry front runners Verizon and AT&T.

According to recent statistics, combined subscriber share of New T-Mobile puts the entity second to Verizon's crown with 29.4% of post-paid wireless accounts, reports Gizmodo. AT&T owns 28.9% of the market, while Verizon is the clear leader with a 40.9% share.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,042member
    AI says:
    The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

    Yay!! Higher prices!! Whodda thought.

    StrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 19
    macgui said:
    AI says:
    The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

    Yay!! Higher prices!! Whodda thought.

    I can’t confirm higher prices (yet) but I have had less reliable service.  

    The funny thing is I received (filled out) a survey saying service has declined tremendously after the merger was announced.  The next 2 weeks I received great and reliable service, then it went back to poor.  My conclusion is T-mobile’s network is overwhelmed with Sprint users and they’re prioritizing some over others.  Complaints = better service

    Someone will have to explain (again) how users win... /s
  • Reply 3 of 19
    I’m a sprint customer.  It was clear looking at their financials that they were not going to survive much longer with massive payments due to bond holders in the coming years.  I hope that the new T-Mobile will be able to survive while subsuming this debt.  The consumer needs competitors that can survive, not competitors that go bankrupt.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 19
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    macgui said:
    AI says:
    The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

    Yay!! Higher prices!! Whodda thought.

    I can’t confirm higher prices (yet) but I have had less reliable service.  

    The funny thing is I received (filled out) a survey saying service has declined tremendously after the merger was announced.  The next 2 weeks I received great and reliable service, then it went back to poor.  My conclusion is T-mobile’s network is overwhelmed with Sprint users and they’re prioritizing some over others.  Complaints = better service

    Someone will have to explain (again) how users win... /s
    Let me tell you, AT&T hasn’t been the role model of reliability lately...macgui said:
    AI says:
    The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

    Yay!! Higher prices!! Whodda thought.

    If it makes you feel any better I received an email the other day from AT&T, they’re adding an additional 15GB to my current plan (which I’ve never gone over). And they’re only going to charge me an additional $10! They added it to my plan, without my consent. I’m pissed.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    wallym said:
    I’m a sprint customer.  It was clear looking at their financials that they were not going to survive much longer with massive payments due to bond holders in the coming years.  I hope that the new T-Mobile will be able to survive while subsuming this debt.  The consumer needs competitors that can survive, not competitors that go bankrupt.
    I quite agree -- I would rather have 3 stable, competitive players than 2 with another 2 struggling to stay alive.
    As 5G rolls out, financial stability will become increasingly important to finance such massive infrastructure improvements as well as R&D into continued technological advances.  Wireless will be transitioning from 20 year old technology meant to service "car phones" to infiltrating and driving much of modern society.

    I just hope that T-Mobile continues its more customer friendly and focused approach.
    edited November 2019 wallymspinnyd
  • Reply 6 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,452member
    wallym said:
    I’m a sprint customer.  It was clear looking at their financials that they were not going to survive much longer with massive payments due to bond holders in the coming years.  I hope that the new T-Mobile will be able to survive while subsuming this debt.  The consumer needs competitors that can survive, not competitors that go bankrupt.
    Competitors go bankrupt because they cannot compete. Simple, really. For all the trashing of network providers that goes on here the bottom line is that the largest ones continue to grow. Much as some people think the government cannot create competition with regulation.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,638member
    I'd rather have one, all encompassing cellular service--not a company. I see no reason why there are multiple cellular companies each with their own towers. Instead of 3-4 companies (actually more) duplicating their expenses why can't we simply have every cell tower available to every mobile device so everyone gets better service. Forget about the fallacy of competition driving innovation, all we're seeing is certain areas getting service while others don't because the companies only provide service where they can make money. Cellular service is now a utility just like water, gas and electricity utilities. We might even save money if we got rid of corrupt organizations like the (current) FCC and a lot of patent lawyers and ambulance chasers who's only job is to waste consumers money with endless patents trials. 

    Of course, some people will simply say this is socialism and anti-capitalism but these same people are ok with government subsidies so what's the difference?
    flyingdp
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Without this merger, there would have been the exact same number of wireless telcos as with the merger because Sprint was doomed and would have exited the market in bankruptcy. This merger has zero long term effect on number of competitors; but it does determine where the Sprint customers wind up. They were not going to be able to stay with Sprint, long term.
    wallym said:
    I’m a sprint customer.  It was clear looking at their financials that they were not going to survive much longer with massive payments due to bond holders in the coming years.  I hope that the new T-Mobile will be able to survive while subsuming this debt.  The consumer needs competitors that can survive, not competitors that go bankrupt.
  • Reply 9 of 19
    rob53 said:
    I'd rather have one, all encompassing cellular service--not a company. I see no reason why there are multiple cellular companies each with their own towers. Instead of 3-4 companies (actually more) duplicating their expenses why can't we simply have every cell tower available to every mobile device so everyone gets better service. Forget about the fallacy of competition driving innovation, all we're seeing is certain areas getting service while others don't because the companies only provide service where they can make money. Cellular service is now a utility just like water, gas and electricity utilities. We might even save money if we got rid of corrupt organizations like the (current) FCC and a lot of patent lawyers and ambulance chasers who's only job is to waste consumers money with endless patents trials. 

    Of course, some people will simply say this is socialism and anti-capitalism but these same people are ok with government subsidies so what's the difference?
    We used to have this.  AT&T was the phone company for the vast majority of the country for nearly the first 100 years of the telephone.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System  The lawsuit by the DOJ extended from Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan.  It is not a political issue, but one of reality.

    The problem is that this vertical integration limited innovation.  For example, we paid for having fiber to the curb many years ago, but it was never done. Why?  Because of a slow clunky bloated infrastructure that was overly invested in call quality and less interested in innovation.  The path forward was clearly voip, but the bloated hierarchy wanted switching.  There were demos of video calling back in the late 1970s that I remember as a kid.  This is why we need competition.  Cable companies, fiber companies, telecos, wireless, and more.  
    razorpitairnerdrinosaur
  • Reply 10 of 19
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,638member
    wallym said:
    rob53 said:
    I'd rather have one, all encompassing cellular service--not a company. I see no reason why there are multiple cellular companies each with their own towers. Instead of 3-4 companies (actually more) duplicating their expenses why can't we simply have every cell tower available to every mobile device so everyone gets better service. Forget about the fallacy of competition driving innovation, all we're seeing is certain areas getting service while others don't because the companies only provide service where they can make money. Cellular service is now a utility just like water, gas and electricity utilities. We might even save money if we got rid of corrupt organizations like the (current) FCC and a lot of patent lawyers and ambulance chasers who's only job is to waste consumers money with endless patents trials. 

    Of course, some people will simply say this is socialism and anti-capitalism but these same people are ok with government subsidies so what's the difference?
    We used to have this.  AT&T was the phone company for the vast majority of the country for nearly the first 100 years of the telephone.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System  The lawsuit by the DOJ extended from Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan.  It is not a political issue, but one of reality.

    The problem is that this vertical integration limited innovation.  For example, we paid for having fiber to the curb many years ago, but it was never done. Why?  Because of a slow clunky bloated infrastructure that was overly invested in call quality and less interested in innovation.  The path forward was clearly voip, but the bloated hierarchy wanted switching.  There were demos of video calling back in the late 1970s that I remember as a kid.  This is why we need competition.  Cable companies, fiber companies, telecos, wireless, and more.  
    Competition doesn't have to come from existing commercial companies, it can come from a variety of places. When was the last time a cellular company or AT&T actually developed something in-house without buying out a startup company? Even Apple does this so why should we expect Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint to do the creative thinking. Remember, the internet was developed by our government then "given" to the people where private and public companies started screwing over the consumer. Yes, our government can screw over consumers just as easily but there's a ton of R&D being paid for by our tax dollars that ends up being used by non-government companies that overcharge every one of us. Think about pharmaceuticals as well. When I was working for the government, we had much faster networking speeds than consumers. Our government paid for this development. 
  • Reply 11 of 19
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    rob53 said:
    wallym said:
    rob53 said:
    I'd rather have one, all encompassing cellular service--not a company. I see no reason why there are multiple cellular companies each with their own towers. Instead of 3-4 companies (actually more) duplicating their expenses why can't we simply have every cell tower available to every mobile device so everyone gets better service. Forget about the fallacy of competition driving innovation, all we're seeing is certain areas getting service while others don't because the companies only provide service where they can make money. Cellular service is now a utility just like water, gas and electricity utilities. We might even save money if we got rid of corrupt organizations like the (current) FCC and a lot of patent lawyers and ambulance chasers who's only job is to waste consumers money with endless patents trials. 

    Of course, some people will simply say this is socialism and anti-capitalism but these same people are ok with government subsidies so what's the difference?
    We used to have this.  AT&T was the phone company for the vast majority of the country for nearly the first 100 years of the telephone.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System  The lawsuit by the DOJ extended from Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan.  It is not a political issue, but one of reality.

    The problem is that this vertical integration limited innovation.  For example, we paid for having fiber to the curb many years ago, but it was never done. Why?  Because of a slow clunky bloated infrastructure that was overly invested in call quality and less interested in innovation.  The path forward was clearly voip, but the bloated hierarchy wanted switching.  There were demos of video calling back in the late 1970s that I remember as a kid.  This is why we need competition.  Cable companies, fiber companies, telecos, wireless, and more.  
    Competition doesn't have to come from existing commercial companies, it can come from a variety of places. When was the last time a cellular company or AT&T actually developed something in-house without buying out a startup company? Even Apple does this so why should we expect Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint to do the creative thinking. Remember, the internet was developed by our government then "given" to the people where private and public companies started screwing over the consumer. Yes, our government can screw over consumers just as easily but there's a ton of R&D being paid for by our tax dollars that ends up being used by non-government companies that overcharge every one of us. Think about pharmaceuticals as well. When I was working for the government, we had much faster networking speeds than consumers. Our government paid for this development. 
    That's the beauty of the current system. If one of these smaller companies comes up with a great idea, presents it to Verizon and they decide to pass on it, they have at least two other nationwide carriers they can present it too.

    With one large blob utility, that idea, no matter how great it is, dies if they don't want it under whatever proposed terms.

    Remember, when the iPhone was introduced no one but Cingular was willing to agree to Apple's terms. They were the hungriest at the time and willing to try anything to stay afloat. Good decision on their part. Bad decision on Verizon's and Sprint's (at the time).

    We'd be having a completely different discussion today if Sprint would have taken Apple up on its original offer, or if the States only had Verizon as a national carrier.
    baconstangwallymairnerd
  • Reply 12 of 19
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    rob53 said:
    I'd rather have one, all encompassing cellular service--not a company. I see no reason why there are multiple cellular companies each with their own towers. Instead of 3-4 companies (actually more) duplicating their expenses why can't we simply have every cell tower available to every mobile device so everyone gets better service. Forget about the fallacy of competition driving innovation, all we're seeing is certain areas getting service while others don't because the companies only provide service where they can make money. Cellular service is now a utility just like water, gas and electricity utilities. We might even save money if we got rid of corrupt organizations like the (current) FCC and a lot of patent lawyers and ambulance chasers who's only job is to waste consumers money with endless patents trials. 

    Of course, some people will simply say this is socialism and anti-capitalism but these same people are ok with government subsidies so what's the difference?
    Very true!   It's why the electric utilities were created:  They were given monopolistic power but then regulated such that they could not abuse that power.

    And, by the way, the Trump's FCC declared that cell services were NOT utilities and could not be regulated as such.  Now they are free to do whatever they want.  I think they called that "Net Neutrality" and compared it to the "government running the internet".
  • Reply 13 of 19
    rob53 said:
    Forget about the fallacy of competition driving innovation, all we're seeing is certain areas getting service while others don't because the companies only provide service where they can make money. 

    For 100 years, AT&T had the opportunity to build out to everybody. And they didn't. For the same reason you just mentioned. Money.  It makes no difference if it's 10 big companies, four big companies, or one single company. When decisions are left up to managers who have to meet a budget, the needs of the consumer are faceless, lost in a sea of balance sheets.

    In the 1960's, farmers in rural areas of Utah and Nevada were deemed too expensive for Ma Bell to spend the time serving. One of my former bosses got a certificate from the FCC to serve those customers. He strung copper lines along fenceposts, built some of the switching gear by hand, and bought old surplus equipment to patch together a working phone company. For years the gear sat in old semi-trailers, and he would fly his Mooney like a bush pilot, going from ranch to ranch for installs, maintenance, and repairs. Over the next 50 years the company grew to cover communities in 11 counties across both states.

    That company deployed gigabit fiber to the home in 2007 to those originally unserved communities, and expanded the lines to include customers who had never had a phone in their life. Meanwhile I twiddle my thumbs with CenturyLink's measly 3Mbps DSL in a suburban area: that service hasn't changed a bit since 2007.

    Without incentive, large companies like the RBOCs and cable companies stagnate, period. That incentive comes in the form of potential loss of customers revenue. When Google Fiber announced it was coming to Utah, Comcast and CenturyLink either slashed prices or began massive upgrades--but only in areas where Google announced it was planning to build out.


    ronnspinnyd
  • Reply 14 of 19
    macgui said:
    AI says:
    The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

    Yay!! Higher prices!! Whodda thought.

    I can’t confirm higher prices (yet) but I have had less reliable service.  

    The funny thing is I received (filled out) a survey saying service has declined tremendously after the merger was announced.  The next 2 weeks I received great and reliable service, then it went back to poor.  My conclusion is T-mobile’s network is overwhelmed with Sprint users and they’re prioritizing some over others.  Complaints = better service

    Someone will have to explain (again) how users win... /s
    ....They haven’t merged yet lol. They just now gained regulatory approval.
    spinnyd
  • Reply 15 of 19
    razorpit said:
    macgui said:
    AI says:
    The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

    Yay!! Higher prices!! Whodda thought.

    I can’t confirm higher prices (yet) but I have had less reliable service.  

    The funny thing is I received (filled out) a survey saying service has declined tremendously after the merger was announced.  The next 2 weeks I received great and reliable service, then it went back to poor.  My conclusion is T-mobile’s network is overwhelmed with Sprint users and they’re prioritizing some over others.  Complaints = better service

    Someone will have to explain (again) how users win... /s
    Let me tell you, AT&T hasn’t been the role model of reliability lately...macgui said:
    AI says:
    The commitments failed to woo Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who noted staff analysis of the merger found wireless prices would rise with the introduction of New T-Mobile, especially for low-income urban Americans, CNN reports.

    Yay!! Higher prices!! Whodda thought.

    If it makes you feel any better I received an email the other day from AT&T, they’re adding an additional 15GB to my current plan (which I’ve never gone over). And they’re only going to charge me an additional $10! They added it to my plan, without my consent. I’m pissed.
    Same here - call their customer loyalty number & they can take it back off.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    ronnronn Posts: 448member
    The approval wouldn't be so bad were it not for the FCC allowing promises to be broken so often. Make the two carriers follow through on conditions/promise; and definitely make sure DISH stops hoarding all that spectrum without keeping various commitments. If the latter keeps dicking around, take their spectrum and allow regional carriers a chance to use the spectrum.

    Have no high expectations as a T-Mobile customer with deteriorating service, and a guaranteed increase in prices and onerous conditions once the three year grace period is over. 
  • Reply 17 of 19
    I find it quite funny that in other forums here, people were lauding their switch to T-Mobile from either AT&T or Verizon as the best move they ever made.  They wrote about much better service and price.  So what's up with you people here that claim worse service with T-Mobile?
    spinnyd
  • Reply 18 of 19
    ronnronn Posts: 448member
    goofy1958 said:
    I find it quite funny that in other forums here, people were lauding their switch to T-Mobile from either AT&T or Verizon as the best move they ever made.  They wrote about much better service and price.  So what's up with you people here that claim worse service with T-Mobile?
    Service has deteriorated. As simple as that. Were it not for the cheap monthly fee ($30), I would be using a MVNO piggybacking off of Verizon or AT&T right now. Service completely drops on several stops whenever I have to commute to Manhattan. Still no service when I travel to parts of Virginia. After CS reps said they were working on it years ago.

    Forget all the Tuesday freebies Legere. Fix the damn service.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    ronn said:
    goofy1958 said:
    I find it quite funny that in other forums here, people were lauding their switch to T-Mobile from either AT&T or Verizon as the best move they ever made.  They wrote about much better service and price.  So what's up with you people here that claim worse service with T-Mobile?
    Service has deteriorated. As simple as that. Were it not for the cheap monthly fee ($30), I would be using a MVNO piggybacking off of Verizon or AT&T right now. Service completely drops on several stops whenever I have to commute to Manhattan. Still no service when I travel to parts of Virginia. After CS reps said they were working on it years ago.

    Forget all the Tuesday freebies Legere. Fix the damn service.
    That's too bad you are experiencing poor service.
    For myself, I switched from AT&T to Consumer Cellular to T-Mobile and got good service from each.  Essentially, the only difference I noticed was price.  (T-Mobile is a little more expensive than Consumer Cellular, but Consumer doesn't cover the Apple Watch.)
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