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T-Mobile is reportedly asking smaller carriers to publicly support its acquisition of Sprint

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

T-Mobile is asking smaller carriers that run services on its mobile network to publicly come out in favor of the company’s proposed merger with Sprint, according to Reuters. T-Mobile has requested that these mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) take steps that range from filing FCC comments in favor of the deal to publishing editorials in news publications.

The company is also providing MVNOs with a number of talking points that match its own reasoning for why a merger between the third- and fourth-largest US carriers would be positive for consumers and the mobile industry. Accelerating the buildout of 5G is at the top of that list.

MVNOs that operate on T-Mobile’s network include TracFone and subsidiary Straight Talk, Google’s Project Fi, Ting, Republic Wireless, Mint Mobile, Ladybug Wireless, CellNUVO, and more. Reuters spoke to Consumer Cellular CEO John Marick, who said that he received an email from T-Mobile US “asking if he was willing to submit a comment to the FCC.” Marick didn’t feel pressured by the request.

Critics of the proposed $26 billion T-Mobile/Sprint merger, which would result in T-Mobile effectively taking control of Sprint, believe it would ultimately raise prices for consumers. Both the FCC and antitrust regulators at the Justice Department have begun examining the deal. The two carriers say they expect the merger to successfully close in early 2019.