The Fly’s Feb. 20 column “Eshoo Flip-Flops on Big Telecom Mergers” implies that because I opposed AT&T’s bid to acquire T-Mobile in 2011, I have flipped my position on big telecommunication mergers.
Yes, I support the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, and here is why.
Today we have four wireless companies. Some say four is better than three. We actually have a duopoly, AT&T and Verizon. They control approximately two-thirds of the market and have for the last 15 years.
Americans pay some of the highest prices for mobile wireless service in the developed world, they have fewer choices when it comes to providers, and the quality of service, particularly in rural America, leaves much to be desired.
We can’t measure competition in this market simply by the total number of carriers. We have to look at what these carriers are capable of providing to their customers. T-Mobile has a strong track record as an aggressive competitor. The company has helped lower prices, eliminated contracts, and promoted pro-consumer policies.
Sprint has also competed for market share in recent years, but the company is carrying $40 billion in debt. They can’t make the necessary investments to build out their network and compete with the top two carriers, and many believe they are heading toward bankruptcy. What Sprint does have is spectrum.
Merging pro-consumer T-Mobile with Sprint’s spectrum holdings will create a new company with eight times the network capacity and the ability to aggressively compete for new customers by offering competitive prices for better service, and expand into underserved and unserved regions of America.
Consumers will be the ones who benefit from this competition.
During my service in Congress, I’ve opposed many mergers. I take a back seat to no one on my pro-consumer record and my efforts regarding competition. I evaluate every policy before me through the lens of competition and consumers. I support this merger because we have a rigid market dominated for decades by the same two carriers and this must change. Turning the wireless market on its head is the only flip I’m concerned with.
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) has served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee since 1995. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].