WISPA Leery of Unintended Consequences, Asks Commission to Open T-Mobile / Sprint Merger Deal to Robust Public Comment
Washington, DC, May 20, 2019 – Today, after the latest round of merger concessions from T-Mobile and Sprint – which, among other things, promises to bring 5G services “deep into rural areas, with 85% of rural Americans covered within three years and 90% covered within six years” – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai believes a merged company is in the public interest and intends to recommend that the FCC approve it.
The following statement may be attributed to Claude Aiken, president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA):
“We appreciate that the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint have set their sights on rural America, where nearly 20 million Americans lack adequate and affordable broadband services. Having more options out there, if even years from now, will help rural Americans get online. Of course, the devil’s in the details. All we have to go on are promises, and those promises are not much more than headlines.
“The stakeholders in this long, drawn-out process are many, not solely the merging parties. Yet, only a small handful of individuals were at the table, negotiating matters that have a wide-ranging effect on U.S. communications policy, rural Americans and the providers – like WISPA’s members – that risk private capital every day to expand broadband. To this end, we are wary of any unintended consequences which could occur from such a large merger. In particular, what would be the effect on investment for those already providing high-speed service in the areas T-Mobile / Sprint say they will serve? Will the merger thwart buildout of new broadband, especially from small providers?
“We have many questions. Our members serve nearly four million individuals in the areas T-Mobile and Sprint have reportedly committed to serve. We trust that this process seeks to work with our members, not against them. In this regard, we hope the Commission allows robust public comment on the merger deal, so all stakeholders can see what it entails, and we can all better work to promote the public interest.”
WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless Internet service provider industry. WISPA has over 800 members that support WISPA’s advocacy, education and other collaborative industry initiatives. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.