BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Palo Alto Congresswoman Anna Eshoo appears to have flipped her position on big telecommunications mergers, giving a glowing endorsement of a plan to merge T-Mobile and Sprint, the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers.
Telecom companies gave Eshoo $49,600 last year and $75,500 in 2017. Over the years, the 26-year congresswoman has pulled in $572,461 from the industry, more than all but 10 other members of the House and Senate.
At a Feb. 13 hearing of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Eshoo said she wanted to use her time not to ask questions about the merger, but to make a statement.
In 2011, Eshoo said she supported the Justice Department’s decision to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile and that the move reflected her own views of the “need for true competition and value to consumers.”
Then, at last week’s hearing, Eshoo said her support of those two free-market values — competition and value to consumers — were the reasons to support a merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. Verizon and AT&T control two-thirds of the market, and have done so for the last 15 years, Eshoo said.
“This is hardly a competitive, dynamic market that we have. For all intents and purposes, we have a duopoly in the country,” Eshoo said. “In reality, I think the merger will increase the new company’s network capacity eightfold.”
Eshoo said that Sprint and T-Mobile had fought “tooth and nail” to adopt pro-consumer policies, but both companies are missing a crucial ingredient to become “heavyweight competitors” in the market.
T-Mobile needs Sprint’s midband spectrum, and Sprint is carrying a $40 billion debt and can’t make the investments necessary to compete with Verizon and AT&T.
Eshoo said she disagrees that consolidating the market from four carriers to three would increase prices and hurt consumers.
She noted that she wishes T-Mo-bile’s workers were unionized.
“I wish they were, but they’re not, but I think that competition and the protection of consumers is front and center in this,” Eshoo said.