Analysts have said that any concessions T-Mobile U.S. Inc makes in order to get a U.S. government approval for its acquisition of Sprint Corp are likely seen prices go up, affecting most of the poorest Americans user who depends on prepaid wireless plans.
According to activists, if the deal leads to higher prices for prepaid plans, then low-income users will find it difficult to afford data for internet. And this will directly impact the poor population’s capacity to hunt for jobs online or apply for the same, as well as children not being able to handle their homework.
Most of the poor populations prefer prepaid plans because it doesn’t require them to handle credit cards or monthly bank payments, although services are much cheaper on postpaid.
In 2015, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll that showed 48% of respondents were forced to cancel or shut off their service for a while just because it was too expensive.
On Monday, T-Mobile and Sprint revealed that their deal would involve the sale of Boost Mobile, part of Sprint’s prepaid plans business. But the two companies guaranteed that they’d work on a deal that would see the divested company gets access to a wireless network for the next six years.
T-Mobile’s offer convinced Federal Communications Commission (FCC) boss Ajit Pai, who agreed to back the proposed deal. It also got the nod of two other Republican commissioners, a scenario that sees the transaction get the backing of three out of five votes.
But the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department wants the agency to block the deal. A similar call has been made by advocacy group Free Press, which says that the sale is set to worsen the situation and make it harder for the poor populations to access the internet.
In 2018, Dish Network Corp said that the deal between Sprint and T-Mobile would see the companies’ customers pay more for prepaid and postpaid services. The company, which also opposes the deal, filed with the FCC at the time saying that the payments for the two services would go up by 4.2% and 4.8% respectively.
At the moment, Boost offers its customers a choice of four lines, with users paying $100 monthly fee to access unlimited data, talk time and text.