Critics argued a pledge by T-Mobile US and Sprint not to raise tariffs for three years following their proposed merger is riddled with loopholes which will allow the companies to increase prices anyway.
In a new filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the operators sought to quell opponents’ accusations the deal will increase consumer costs, stating: “New T-Mobile will make available the same or better rate plans as those offered by T-Mobile or Sprint as of today’s date [4 February] for three years following the merger.”
The pair added they would not object to the commitment being included as a formal condition for regulatory approval of their merger.
T-Mobile and Sprint said the statement was intended to simplify the FCC’s review of the deal and “remove any doubts, concerns or ambiguity” about their post-merger plans.
But the 4Competition Coalition, a group of companies and consumer groups opposed to the deal, argued in a statement the pledge is an “empty promise that does not provide any real price protection for consumers”.
The group, which counts Dish Network; C Spire; the Rural Wireless Association; and the Communications Workers of America union among its members, added the offer comprised “precisely the kind of behavioural conditions that regulators have found insufficient in merger reviews.”
Notably, T-Mobile and Sprint’s commitment does not cover handset and other device costs, which can contribute significantly to monthly bills when users are on equipment instalment plans.
There is also a provision which notes legacy prices may be changed to pass along cost increases from taxes, fees and surcharges, and service charges from third-party partners.
Additionally, some third-party benefits may be modified or scrapped altogether based on changes to agreements with those vendors, though T-Mobile and Sprint said such changes are outwith their control.Subscribe to our daily newsletter