New report says DOJ antitrust chief ‘consulted’ with FCC Chairman about T-Mobile-Sprint merger

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There was a bit of a back-and-forth for T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger this week, as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai came out in support of the deal but then a report claimed that the Department of Justice’s antitrust staff had recommended that the merger be blocked. Now a new report claims to have some more information on the agencies’ reviews of the deal.

Before publicly announcing his support of T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger this week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai “consulted” with DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim, say sources speaking to the New York Post. Details of their conversation aren’t known, but some believe that this indicates that Delrahim will give the merger the green light.

The report goes on to say that DOJ staff are still opposed to the T-Mobile-Sprint merger and that T-Mobile hasn’t offered any new concessions to regulators recently.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the DOJ antitrust division had recommended that T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger be blocked, despite FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and other FCC Commissioners coming out in support of the deal. Those DOJ staffers are reportedly concerned that T-Mobile will not work aggressively to cut prices and improve service if the deal is approved. Ultimately, though, the decision on whether or not the DOJ tries to block the deal is up to Delrahim.

In other merger news, several U.S. Senators have written to Pai and Delrahim to reiterate their opposition to T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger despite T-Mo’s recent concessions. The letter is signed by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), all six of which were also included in the group of Senators who opposed the merger earlier this year.

“Among other issues, the behavioral conditions and voluntary commitments offered are filled with loopholes, lack meaningful enforcement mechanisms, and do note come close to ameliorating the negaitve effects that a reduction in wireless competition would cause for consumers across the country, including the wholesale and prepaid markets,” the letter reads.

“Additionally, the parties’ submission includes a handful of vague promises. For instance, they commit to building out the 5G network in rural America, but it still falls far short. It fails to include a pledge to create jobs and opportunities for the ones that will be lost — a factor in the FCC’s public interest determination as Commissioner Starks has recognized,” the letter goes on to say.

The six Senators go on to request that the FCC share more information on T-Mobile’s merger plans and allow for a 30-day comment period so that anyone interested in the deal can evaluate T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposals.

Sources: NYPost, Tom Udall

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  • Chris Hollingsworth

    Wonder how much Verizon has donated to those Democrats opposing the merger. What a sham….:(

    • My question is why it’s hardly mentioned that Dish Network is practically spearheading the anti-merger campaigns from the “4Competition” group and others, when they are supposed to be working to create a greenfield 5G network of their own. While it may be focused on the IoT build-out this year to keep the spectrum it’s been hoarding, it’s supposed to be building out consumer capabilities as the second phase. This completely nullifies the arguments they are making as they would essentially step into the role of the 4th carrier. The truth, I suspect, is that they don’t want the merger to happen because they would rather compete with two strong carriers and two weaker ones as opposed to three strong competitors.

    • John Doe

      I don’t think Verizon is opposed to it though. T-Mobile is already destroying them and Verizon does not mind losing subscribers they are focusing on content

      • Jay Holm

        Any company with 100+ million customers doesn’t fear losing a customer, that’s why they need competition.

        • Trust me they are. You see how much they plans have changed every year and promotions etc. AT&T is shaking in they boots I cant tell you how much customers defect working in the churn dept. It was crazy

        • Francisco Peña

          Not quite.
          Q1-2019 for VZW has 174K postpaid phone net additions, and overall 61K postpaid net additions.
          TMo by contrast had 1.7M total net additions, 1.0M branded (I assume just TMo side) postpaid net additions. They also had 656K post paid phone net additions. Tmo got their churn rate down to .88%, which is slightly higher than VZW’s .84%, but VZW was up 4 pts.

  • Jay Holm

    Whatever, just approve the merger already!!!

  • BillBurnett

    This issue / reporting is going in circles now..