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Labor Groups Don’t Want T-Mobile To Use Recovery Funds For Build-Out

 |  April 22, 2020

Several labor and rural broadband advocacy groups urged Congress on Tuesday, April 21, to prevent COVID-19 recovery funds from going toward the wireless infrastructure projects that T-Mobile pledged to carry out to help secure approval for its contentious tie-up with Sprint, reported Law 360. 

The organizations state that T-Mobile made the commitments to win over the Federal Communications Commission, US Department of Justice, state attorneys general and state public utilities commissions, and that the coronavirus relief monies should not be spent on the merger-specific projects.

T-Mobile’s US$56 billion merger with Sprint, with the combined company dubbed the New T-Mobile, closed on April 1 after a protracted approval period that saw challenges from numerous state regulators and fierce opposition in some antitrust quarters.

Now that the merger has cleared regulatory hurdles, the mobile giant should meet its commitments without the help of the extraordinary relief measures, the groups, including the Communications Workers of America and NTCA (The Rural Broadband Association), told lawmakers in a letter Tuesday.

“The New T-Mobile has repeatedly and emphatically claimed that as a direct result of the merger, it would have the necessary resources to deliver 5G to millions of square miles of the US and hundreds of millions of Americans, including those living in and traveling through rural America,” the letter stated.

“As the US begins the recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic and Congress contemplates passing additional stimulus measures, [we urge you] not to award T-Mobile with any forthcoming infrastructure funding to meet its merger-specific build-out commitments agreed to when it sought approval of the merger from the FCC, DOJ, state attorneys general, and the state public utilities commissions,” the groups said.

They pointed to several specific commitments that T-Mobile and Sprint made to the FCC and DOJ, including offering download speeds of 25 Mbps or more to 84% of America’s rural populations by 2024, and the same minimum download speeds to 2.4 million square miles of rural America by then.

Full Content: Law 360

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