T-Mobile Baits State AGs for Merger Approval with Promises of Cheap, Free 5G Service
T-Mobile today announced plans to offer three new programs offering 5G service for free to certain groups, or cheaply for everyone else. The company is promising to launch the programs when and if it is allowed to merge with Sprint. Although the federal government has approved the merger, over a dozen state attorneys general are suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds, claiming the move would lead to higher prices for consumers. The new programs are:
- Connecting Heroes Initiative: Free unlimited wireless service — including 5G data, talk, and text — for all first responders in the country. This would include every public and non-profit state and local police, fire and EMS first responder agency in the US. T-Mobile is promising to offer this program for 10 years, spending "up to $7.7 billion" on it.
- Project 10Million: In an attempt to address "the homework gap", T-Mobile will offer free mobile hotspots and 100 GB/year of free data to low-income families with children and no home internet access. The company promises to spend $700 million equipping 10 million households with free hardware, and spend $10 billion offering free service for five years.
- T-Mobile Connect: A $15/month prepaid plan available to everyone that offers 2GB of high-speed data plus unlimited talk and text. A step-up plan would offer 5GB of data for $25/month. T-Mobile also commits to increase the data limit of each plan by 0.5 GB every year for the next five years.
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The AGs argue that the merger would increase prices for consumers. T-Mobile has promised to offer plans that are no more expensive than its current plans for three years.
The AGs have also questioned how the merger would impact minority communities. T-Mobile promised "a groundbreaking set of diversity and inclusion initiatives in partnership with six civil rights organizations, including the National Urban League".
Mergers usually lead to job losses, a key argument made by the AGs. T-Mobile today promised to have more than 11,000 additional employees by 2024, compared to what the combined standalone companies would have.
The AGs for New York and California are leading the lawsuit. T-Mobile promised to build new "Customer Experience Centers to support customers" in those states.
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