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It’s official: US government approves T-Mobile/Sprint merger

The Justice Department today announced its approval of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger as part of a settlement that requires the merging companies to spin off several assets to Dish Network.

The DOJ decided against filing a lawsuit to block the T-Mobile US purchase of Sprint, even though it reduces the number of major mobile network providers from four to three. In exchange for its approval, the DOJ convinced the companies to sell Dish spectrum licenses, wholesale network access, and Sprint’s prepaid business including subsidiaries Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Boost and Virgin both resell Sprint network access instead of operating their own networks.

Dish would use its newfound assets to resell T-Mobile/Sprint service and to build its own network. The building-its-own-network part is far more crucial for Dish to effectively replace the competition eliminated by the merger, but this is expected to take several years.

The DOJ’s approval is not the last one T-Mobile and Sprint need, because 13 states and the District of Columbia sued the companies to block the merger.

Dish “a faux competitor, not a real one”
Consumer advocates are rooting for the states in their lawsuit.

“This deal [with the DOJ] creates a faux competitor, not a real one, which is why I would bet on the states in their forthcoming court challenge,” attorney Andrew Schwartzman of the Benton Foundation told media outlets in a statement. Schwartzman led the Media Access Project, a public interest telecommunications law firm, from 1978 to 2012…[ ]

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