Legere also vowed that the new T-Mobile will honor the bargain prices that Sprint currently charges to its customers, pitching the merger as the path to increased competition in the broadband industry.
“This consolidation will lead to lower prices,” Legere said.
Lawmakers peppered Legere and Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure on Wednesday about the deal’s implications for consumers — and whether it will truly lead to more competition, or simply new incentives that encourage T-Mobile to act in anticompetitive ways.
The two carriers have said that merging will allow them to accelerate the buildout of a next-generation wireless data technology, known as 5G, that could support home broadband service and compete with AT&T and Verizon, who are working on advanced 5G networks of their own. Legere claimed that the deal would mean going from having two national 5G networks to three.
Skeptics of the deal said a merger may not be the only path for Sprint and T-Mobile to deliver on their 5G ambitions, particularly if a deal means eliminating a competitor from the marketplace.
"We need consumer choice and 5G — but we should not have to choose between them,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.
T-Mobile has indicated that the wireless market will remain competitive, citing cable companies that have launched their own nascent cellular services.
But other critics said T-Mobile is trying to have it both ways, by implying that there is both insufficient competition in wireless because of the dominance of AT&T and Verizon in 5G, while also claiming that the market is highly competitive because of the entry of the cable industry.
“Which is it?” said Gene Kimmelman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, in the hearing. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the subcommittee’s chairman, at one point also highlighted T-Mobile’s shifting rhetoric on the cable industry’s role.
Defenders of the merger told the subcommittee that consumers are extremely sensitive to changes in price and that any increases would probably be met with damaging blowback for T-Mobile.
“It’s extremely difficult to try to raise prices in this particular market, especially when their competitors are able to offer a bundled solution," said Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “So I’m very skeptical that they would be able to raise prices.”