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Huge Wireless Merger Now One Step Closer

Judge approves T-Mobile's takeover of Sprint
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2020 9:40 AM CST
In this April 27, 2010, file photo, a woman using a cellphone walks past T-Mobile and Sprint stores in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(Newser) – A federal judge on Tuesday approved T-Mobile's $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint, rejecting objections from a group of states and removing a major obstacle to a shake-up in the wireless industry. After the deal closes, the number of major US wireless companies would shrink from four to three. T-Mobile says the deal would benefit consumers as it becomes a fiercer competitor to the larger Verizon and AT&T. But a group of state attorneys general tried to block the deal, arguing that having one fewer phone company would cost Americans billions of dollars in higher cellphone bills. Judge Victor Marrero ruled that while that concern was valid, the possibility of it happening was remote, the AP reports. Marrero's decision comes after the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission already approved the deal.

As part of a settlement with the Justice Department, T-Mobile agreed to help create a new but smaller wireless competitor in satellite-TV company Dish, which the AP calls an "unusual commitment" involving selling millions of Sprint's prepaid customers to Dish and renting its network to the fledgling rival as it builds its own. Another judge still needs to approve that settlement, a process that's usually straightforward but has taken longer than expected. A utility board in California also has to approve the deal. T-Mobile launched its bid for Sprint in 2018, after having been rebuffed by Obama-era regulators. T-Mobile CEO John Legere had seen President Trump's election and his appointed regulators as a good opportunity to try again to combine, according to evidence during the trial.

(Read more T-Mobile stories.)

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