Feb 13, 2019

Top T-Mobile and Sprint executives defend merger to Democrats

A man in profile looks forward, his hands clasped near his face

Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure (L) and T-Mobile CEO John Legere. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Executives from T-Mobile and Sprint defended their merger during a Wednesday hearing from critics who say that the $26 billion deal will cost customers more money and employees their jobs.

Why it matters: With Democrats in control of the House, the deal — which the companies argue will help America keep pace with foreign competitors on 5G — is under more scrutiny.

Details: T-Mobile CEO John Legere was aggressive in maintaining that costs would not go up for consumers and that the company would not employ fewer people after the merger than the two do now.

  • "Our opponents are wrong when they claim the merger will lead to higher prices," he said. "In fact, the opposite is true."
  • "Our critics are wrong about the impact on jobs," he added.

The big picture: Democrats' concerns about the impact of the merger ran the gamut.

  • Several lawmakers pushed the companies about how the planned merger would affect access for rural customers.
  • Lawmakers also said they were concerned that T-Mobile's plans to continue Sprint's Lifeline service, which subsidizes phone service for low-income people, were superficial. Legere said he was willing to make a commitment to the Lifeline program "in whatever form is needed."

What's next: The House Judiciary Committee had planned a hearing with the executives, but that was postponed — raising the prospect the executives will face another grilling from lawmakers in the future.

The bottom line: Congress has no say in merger approvals. Whether the deal goes through is up to the Department of Justice, Federal Communications Commission and state regulators.

Go deeper: Fight heats up over T-Mobile's $26 billion deal with Sprint

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