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Puerto Rico fretting about Sprint/T-Mobile merger

Bnamericas Published: Saturday, March 09, 2019
Puerto Rico fretting about Sprint/T-Mobile merger

The announcement of a merger of US mobile carriers T-Mobile and Sprint could "price out" smaller telecoms operators in Puerto Rico and the territory's telecoms regulator is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to keep an eye on the effects on consumers.

A letter sent earlier this month to the FCC by Puerto Rico's Negociado de Telecomunicaciones or Telecommunications Bureau, said that "the announced T-Mobile and Sprint merger gives the bureau concern on how a merger of such magnitude (the third and fourth largest mobile carriers [in Puerto Rico]) would affect competition and the availability of future spectrum awards to other competitors."

In Puerto Rico, the largest mobile operators are AT&T and Claro, a unit of Mexico's América Móvil. The merger will potentially create a larger, third operator to compete with those two companies.

The bureau asked the FCC taskforce in charge of reviewing the merger to "pay particular attention to the commission's spectrum policies applicable to Puerto Rico to ensure such policies promote competition, innovation, and serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

The concentration of competition in three main carriers, the bureau added, could price smaller carriers and new entrants "out of obtaining the necessary spectrum to serve the population of Puerto Rico." It also asked the FCC to provide an explanation of how the merger will benefit consumers.

The merger was announced last April and has been under review since. Recently, Sprint's holding company SoftBank announced a new push to enter Latin America via a technology investment fund.

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