Department of Justice and FCC voice support for T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger in new court filing

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In the midst of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger trial, both the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission have reiterated their support for the deal.

Both the DOJ and FCC have filed court papers saying that the states’ lawsuit to block the merger would undo consumer benefits that were gained by the government during its review of T-Mobile and Sprint’s deal. One example given by the agencies is improved service in rural parts of the country. The DOJ and FCC both formally approved the T-Mobile-Sprint merger earlier this year.

“Both agencies bring a nationwide perspective to their analysis of the transaction that the litigating states lack,” the DOJ and FCC said in their filing.

In other merger news, the trial has revealed how DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim worked behind the scenes to help push the deal along. Text messages submitted as evidence in the trial show that in June, Delrahim told Dish Network co-founder Charlie Ergen, “Today would be a good day to have your Senator friends contact the chairman,” referring to FCC chairman Ajit Pai. Ergen said that he asked Colorado senator Cory Gardner to speak with Pai and that he also spoke to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Other messages submitted as evidence in the trial show that Delrahim helped coordinate meetings between Ergen, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, and Sprint chairman Marcelo Claure. “I anticipate being part of the meeting and then leaving it to you guys to hash out details as needed,” Delrahim told Ergen about Legere in one message.

The messages also show that T-Mobile and Sprint execs sometimes got frustrated with Ergen when he said he needed time to get Dish’s board to approve parts of their deal with T-Mobile and Sprint. And at one point when Dish sought funding from SoftBank (majority owner of Sprint) for the deal, T-Mo CEO John Legere said to Ergen, “You’ve crossed the line. For full disclosure (which may be a new term to you) I have told Makan I don’t believe you are serious about doing a deal.”

As noted by Inner City Press on Twitter, the trial wrapped up testimonies today, so Judge Victor Marrero got things done quickly like he wanted. The next big event in the trial will happen on January 8th when each side can submit 30-page filings of proposed findings of facts and of law. Then on January 15th there will be four hours of final arguments.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reuters, Inner City Press (Twitter)

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  • Shaun Michalak

    “the states’ lawsuit to block the merger would undo consumer benefits that were gained by the government”

    This statement is true. The more that they mess around, the more time that T-Mobile has to back out of things.

    But not only that, but think of how much all people will lose if it does not go through. Try explaining to EVERY first responder in the country, that they could have gotten free cell service to help their bottom line, but a few AG’s ruined that.. Tell all the people that could be getting $15 cell plans that do not have a lot coming in, that they lost it because of them. Or how about all the poor people that could be getting free internet to do their homework, but now can’t because of a “few” people.

    All the people that want those 50 meg speeds in the country because they have no internet available from anyone.. Well, you lost that too because now they do not have the bandwidth (at least not per person). and when Sprint starts shutting down service in areas, well, that will be because of the AG’s too.. and Dish.. They want Dish to start up a cell company, but if the AG’s are being this much of a prick about this, why would this entice Dish to even try, if they have to start with nothing?? This is now more spectrum, that could be used for service, that will not be used because the AG’s are blocking them.

  • There’s almost no cons to going through with the merger. T-Mobile-Sprint will become a major player, and can possibly build the best 5G network. While Dish, who is sitting on billions in spectrum, can take Sprint’s place as the 4th/little carrier. I had Sprint and the quality is garbage, switched to T-Mobile about 2 years ago and haven’t had any problems.

  • Clifton K. Morris

    The only problem I see is T-Mobile’s contracts with exclusive retailers will need to be revisited.

    Many of these vendors selected T-Mobile and grudgingly accepted T-Mobile’s exclusivity clauses, non-competes, protective covenants, and long-term compensation plans for exclusive retail outlets— these stores focus nearly 100% on net new customer growth and no compensation is provided after-the-sale (like bill payments or service plan changes, upgrades.). You know the stores I’m trying to describe— you go in to change your rate plan and they call customer service then hand the phone to you.

    As long as T-Mobile exclusivity is a thing of the past, this case should sail through any left over approvals.