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T-Mobile asks for a break on its previous 5G and job commitments

Imposing a condition to create 1,000 jobs is "burdensome," especially in light of COVID-19, T-Mobile says.

T-Mobile has asked for conditions to be changed after its merger with Sprint.
Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

T-Mobile has asked the California Public Utilities Commission for a break on some of its 5G and job creation conditions imposed when the carrier's $26.5 billion merger with Sprint was approved. It's requesting a 5G network completion date of two years later, from 2024 to 2026, and to eliminate the requirement to add 1,000 new employees.

According to T-Mobile's filing, the date for the completion of its 5G network across the state and in rural areas was "mistakenly noted" as being 2024 in the decision. It was intended to be for six years after the merger closed.

For the job creation changes, T-Mobile has partially blamed the spread of the coronavirus. "The imposition of a specific hiring mandate is inconsistent with regulatory authority, not supported by the record, and burdensome, especially in light of the economic disruption created by the COVID-19 crisis," T-Mobile said in its filing.

T-Mobile said in an emailed statement its overall jobs commitment hasn't changed and it still commits to having the same amount of staff or more that Sprint and T-Mobile had in California when the deal closed. Rather, it's disputing CPUC's demand for an additional 1,000 jobs beyond that. T-Mobile says CPUC has no authority to ask this.

The carrier is lastly pushing back on the standard used to confirm it's meeting minimum network speeds.

"Our goal is to ensure the CPUC's final decision aligns with what was presented in our proceeding and clearly articulates the benefits this merger will deliver to Californians," T-Mobile said in an emailed statement.

Communications Workers of America, the union representing workers at the carrier, criticized T-Mobile's move. "Today we find out that behind the scenes the company is telling California regulators that it can't meet the requirement to create 1,000 jobs in the next three years," said Chris Shelton, CWA president.

T-Mobile last week began cutting jobs in a bid to streamline operations following its Sprint merger, which went through on April 1.

"As part of this process, some employees who hold similar positions are being asked to consider a career change inside the company," T-Mobile said last week. "Others will be supported in their efforts to find a new position outside the company. We will work with all employees and support them. We do not have numbers to share. We have committed to complete this process by the end of June."

T-Mobile said Tuesday it's still committed to last week's promise that it would create 5,000 new jobs in retail, engineering, business and network organizations in the next year.