Editorial: The siren song of the Sprint-T-Mobile deal, says Los Angeles Times

From Los Angeles Times:

Promises, promises. T-Mobile and Sprint, the third- and fourth-most popular mobile phone networks, respectively, have made a series of alluring pledges to federal regulators as they seek approval for their $26.5-billion merger. These include not raising prices for three years, not charging more for their forthcoming 5G service than their current offerings, and providing 5G more quickly and more extensively than their rivals, reaching 99% of the country’s population within six years.

Those pledges have won the support not just of the reluctant regulator who chairs the Federal Communications Commission, Republican Ajit Pai, but of the California Emerging Technology Fund, which works to extend broadband to underserved rural and inner-city communities across the state. They are persuaded that the benefits of the deal are worth the potential harms to consumers that would come if the four national wireless networks — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — were reduced to three.

History teaches us not to be so sanguine. Over the years, regulators have allowed the steady consolidation of the telecommunications and media industries based on promised benefits that were never delivered. Invariably, mergers have been sold as a way to speed deployment of new services and fortify competition, only to have no such effect. That’s happened in both the phone and cable TV markets; there’s no reason to expect the results to be different in mobile phones.

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