TR Daily Four State AGs Join Lawsuit Against T-Mobile-Sprint Deal
Friday, June 21, 2019

Four State AGs Join Lawsuit Against T-Mobile-Sprint Deal

Four state attorneys general have joined a lawsuit filed earlier this month by AGs in nine states and the District of Columbia to block T-Mobile US, Inc.’s acquisition of Sprint Corp. (TR Daily, June 11).

“The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint would stifle competition, cut jobs, and harm vulnerable consumers from across the country, so unity among the states will be key in defending our citizens against this power-hungry corporate union,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who is leading the lawsuit along with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D.). “We welcome the support from these four additional states, which should serve as a reminder that, all throughout the nation, we have much to lose if we do not take action to protect our people from this megamerger.”

“Millions of Americans rely on mobile devices at work, at home, and to organize their lives. Competition between the mobile companies has resulted in better coverage and cheaper, more reliable service for all of us,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D.). “Our year-long investigation found that the proposed merger would give the new company the power to raise prices, significantly reduce competition for customers, lower quality, and cost thousands of retail workers their jobs. We are challenging this merger to protect a service that matters to everyone.”

“It’s my job to protect Minnesotans when anticompetitive behavior makes it harder for them to afford their lives,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D.). “The proposed megamerger between Sprint and T-Mobile would do just that. It would lead to higher prices, fewer jobs, and less service, especially in Greater Minnesota, where there are already too few options for staying connected. When Minnesotans and Americans everywhere are already struggling to afford their lives, more market consolidation is the last thing they need. I’m joining the fight today against the Sprint/T-Mobile merger to keep that from happening.”

“Protecting Nevada’s consumers is one of my top priorities,” said Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D.). “Our office is exploring all options to ensure that this merger would not negatively affect Nevada families, businesses and workers.”

Hawaii AG Clare Connors (D.) also joined the lawsuit, which also includes Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. All of the other AGs participating in the lawsuit are also Democrats.

The addition of the four states came as U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero of the Southern District of New York held an initial pretrial conference today on the case and scheduled the trial to begin Oct. 7.

“RWA is pleased that Judge Marrero is looking after rural Americans and those traveling in rural America,” said Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Wireless Association. “His comments today during the pre-trial hearing are of great comfort to our members and the customers they serve. T-Mobile has not been interested in rural America until it became apparent that it cannot get its merger through without working on its coverage issues in rural America or its treatment of its customers trying to reach those living and working in rural America.”

In a news release, RWA said that Judge Marrero “voiced a series of concerns with the merger’s impact on rural consumers, focusing heavily on the potential detrimental impact on rural areas. Specifically, with T-Mobile’s plan to decommission some of Sprint’s cell sites in rural areas and the loss of affordable roaming for rural consumers, he queried whether there would be a loss of service in rural America. He also questioned T-Mobile’s proposed build out plan which has not been very specific. Additionally, Judge Marrero appeared interested in whether AT&T and Verizon would step in to build out to rural areas if Sprint is eliminated.”

Debbie Goldman, research and telecommunications policy director for the Communications Workers of America, also welcomed the addition of the four states to the lawsuit.

“Momentum is growing against the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger, with four additional states recognizing that merging these two companies would be anti-competitive and harmful to workers, consumers, and communities across America,” she said.

Meanwhile, a BTIG LLC blog posting today said that the 2.5 gigahertz band educational broadband service (EBS) order that the FCC is scheduled to vote on at its July 10 meeting (TR Daily, June 19) “would be a huge win for Sprint and its possible acquirer, T-Mobile. Sprint will be able to more easily consolidate a whopping 194 MHz of contiguous mid-band spectrum and it would expand the geographic reach of Sprint’s spectrum, facilitating easier network deployment. We do not expect Sprint to need to spend much money to realize this benefit. Based on the structure of the auction and Sprint’s incumbent 2.5 GHz spectrum position, it’s hard to see why any national operator would compete with Sprint to bid for this spectrum.” —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

MainStory: Courts MergersAntitrust WirelessDeployment SpectrumAllocation

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