Feb. 13 (UPI) — Executives from T-Mobile and Sprint argued on Capitol Hill Wednesday that they must merge to compete against larger businesses.
The executives testified before a House congressional subcommittee that the proposed merger wouldn’t hurt competition, raise prices or harm the U.S. economy, but that it would allow them to fight for market space against AT&T and Verizon, the Washington Post reported.
The $ 146-billion merger was announced last April, but its opponents say it would further concentrate the wireless industry.
The day before the hearing, eight Democratic senators sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission, which has final say on the merger, urging it to stop the merger for this reason.
During the session, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., said the merger brings market concentration to “a level that raises a lot of red flags,” Bloomberg reported.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., said “I’m worried that many of the constituents that I have will be priced out.”
However, Marcelo Claure, Sprint executive chairman, said that the opposite would be true and without the merger, his company would need to add billions of dollars in debt to expand its network, which would increase its prices.
“I want to be very clear,” John Legere, T-Mobile chief executive officer, said, “in any which way you’d like to ask it: prices will go down.”
The session also gave the opportunity for lawmakers to confront Legere over the revelation by the Washington Post that T-Mobile executives had booked at least 52 nights at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Legere responded that he hoped that the FCC would make their decision over the merger without considering his hotel accommodations.
Previously, the United State’s No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carries said that the merger would create thousands of jobs nationwide, a claim that Chris Shelton, president of Communications Workers of America, says rings false.
“Let’s tell it like it is: This merge would kill American jobs and raise prices on American consumers to enrich two foreign companies,” Shelton said, referring to T-Mobile’s German parent company Deutsche Telekom and Sprint’s Japanese parent SoftBank.